Employment increases and sustained wage growth marked the first half of 2019 as the Canadian economy posted the best first half since 2010.
The results were “stellar,” in the words of a Globe and Mail report. Nearly a quarter of a million jobs – 247,500 – were added over the six-month time period, with private sector and full-time employment leading the way. It was the strongest job increase since 2002. A record 106,500 jobs were added in April.
Average hourly wages increased 3.8 per cent in June compared to the same month in 2018 – the seventh consecutive month of what Douglas Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets, called “hearty wage gains.” The uptick contrasts sharply with anemic wage gains in the rest of the industrialized world.
The forward momentum did stall in June, when the economy shed 2,200 jobs and the national unemployment rate climbed from 5.4 per cent – a 40-year low – to 5.5 per cent, due to an increase in people entering the workforce as reported by Statistics Canada. Economists had expected 10,000 new jobs to be added in June.
But the June results didn’t dampen analyst enthusiasm at the positive first half.
“After a string of stellar economic releases in recent weeks, June jobs couldn’t extend the streak,” Porter said, as quoted by BNN Bloomberg. “However, it doesn’t take much digging below the surface to find signs of underlying strength… For the Bank of Canada, the strength in wages and hours, and a still-low jobless rate will give them no reason to seriously consider matching Fed rate cuts anytime soon.”