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Canadian employment growth rebounded in January after slowing over the first half of 2018.

January saw a 66,800 rise in new jobs, after the number declined to 7,800 in December, says RBC Economic Research in its Daily Economic Update for February 8.

Although employment growth slowed through the first half of 2018, the second half of the year saw a rise in the pace of hiring, and the latest figures indicate that this trend has been strongly confirmed. Still, there was an “unexpectedly large jump” in unemployment to 5.8 per cent in January, from December’s 5.6 per cent: while there was actually a surge in hiring, it was smaller than the 104,000 increase in the labour force.

At the same time, another Daily Economic Update also released on February 8 shows that Canadian housing starts fell to 208,000 in January from 214,000 in December. “That is still a solid level to kick off 2019, down only slightly from the 213k total last year,” RBC said.

Single-unit starts continue to decline while multi-unit starts have continued to rise, edging up 0.7 per cent in January. New building activity so far has not significantly followed the decline in home resales, and RBC notes more strong building activity in the pipeline, with permit issuance running at a 240k per month annualized rate in Q4 2018.

“Housing starts typically follow resales with a lag, though,” RBC observes. “We continue to expect housing starts will ultimately begin to slow more significantly later in 2019.”

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