Unemployment rate hits lowest mark in 40 years

Unemployment rate hits lowest mark in 40 years

A report showing that the USA economy created more private-sector jobs than expected last month lent some support to the US dollar.

In December, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.7 per cent, down from 5.9 per cent the month before, to reach its lowest mark since comparable data became available in 1976.

"Another ridiculously strong employment report that is marked by over 150,000 new jobs in two months gives the [Bank of Canada] full reason to look through a transitory soft patch in the economy", Derek Holt, vice-president of Scotiabank Economics, wrote in a note to investors.

Unemployment rate hits lowest mark in 40 years
Unemployment rate hits lowest mark in 40 years

"Given the tremendous progress made in narrowing labour market slack - an area highlighted by the Bank of Canada in recent communication - we think that today's report is enough to push" Governor Stephen Poloz to raise rates on January 17, CIBC economist Nick Exarhos said in a note to investors.

December's numbers bring a close to the data for 2017 as a whole, which ended up being Canada's best year for jobs since 2002, with the economy adding 422,500 jobs last year with the gains driven by 394,200 new full-time positions.

In the 12 months to December, employment increased by 3.5 per cent in the goods-producing sector and by 2 per cent in the services-producing sector, according to Statistics Canada.

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The local unemployment rate fell a notch to 6.2 per cent, down from 6.3 per cent in November.

"While risks to the outlook remain and may temper the overall pace of rate hikes, another policy interest rate hike in the near term now seems nearly certain". A year ago, unemployment sat at 8.5 per cent in Alberta. Since December of 2016, the Moncton CMA has gained 4,900 jobs.

In separate data, Canada's trade deficit in November widened to C$2.54 billion as both exports and imports benefited from increased activity in the automotive industry.

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