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Red Deer area January unemployment rate lowest in Alberta

10 February 2019

Good news on the jobs front in Prince George.

The capital region's jobless rate climbed to 5.2 per cent in January from five per cent in December, marking the fourth consecutive monthly rise, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

But at 5.6 per cent, it was half a percentage point higher than unemployment in December 2018.

(StatsCan warns with unadjusted data, one can not make month-to-month comparisons since different seasonal factors influence each month).

Provincially, B.C. continued to have the lowest unemployment rate in the country for the 17th month in a row in January, at 4.7 per cent while nationally, Canada's unemployment rate was 5.8 per cent.

Wages for permanent employees accelerated to 1.8 per cent in January from 1.5 per cent in December, and overall wage growth ran steady at two per cent. "That blew past expectations for a modest 5,000 gain", said Royce Mendes, an economist with CIBC Economics. "We actually saw a record gain in private-sector payrolls".

Employment growth, according to Statistics Canada, was led by younger workers aged 15 to 24 and the wholesale and retail industries.

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It's better, he said, to look at the three-month and six-month trends, although he also described those results as solid in recent months.

The Bank of Canada has been monitoring wage growth ahead of its interest-rate decisions as it tries to determine how well indebted households can absorb higher borrowing costs.

The only region that saw a increase since last January was the Campbellton-Miramichi, where unemployment rose from to 14.7 per cent from 13.2. Many analysts expect governor Stephen Poloz to wait until much later in 2019 before making a move.

The region also lost 700 full-time jobs and gained 400 part-time jobs month-over-month.

This came despite a net increase of 1,900 jobs from December to January because the labour force - which includes people looking for work - swelled by 4,000.

"Volatility returned with a notable increase in employment during the month of January", he wrote.