Canada reports big job losses in January

The number of jobs in Canada fell by 88,000 in January to give the labour market its steepest one-month drop in nine years, Statistics Canada said Friday.

The overall number was dragged down by a loss of 137,000 part-time positions in what was easily the category's largest one-month collapse since the agency started gathering the data in 1976.

Statistics Canada's latest jobs survey said the net decline helped push the national unemployment rate up to 5.9 per cent in January, from a revised 5.8 per cent the previous month.

But on the other hand, the agency said the economy generated 49,000 full-time positions last month.

A closer look at the numbers revealed that the number of paid employee positions also experienced a significant loss last month by shedding 112,000 positions.

By comparison, the number of people who identified as self-employed workers -- often seen as a less desirable category that includes unpaid work in a family business -- increased last month by 23,900.

Even with the overall decline in January, Canada has been on a strong run of job creation that has seen the country add 414,100 full-time jobs over a 12-month period. The growth represents an increase of 2.8 per cent.

Over that same period, the number of less desirable part-time positions declined by 125,400 or 3.5 per cent.

The January reading marked the end of a 13-month streak of job gains, however, about half of those positive numbers were within the survey's margin of error.

By region, the agency said Ontario and Quebec saw the biggest decreases last month, while New Brunswick and Manitoba also had net losses.

Ontario shed 59,300 part-time jobs as the province implemented a $2.40 cent minimum wage hike at the start of the month.

Statistics Canada says the province shed 50,800 jobs total from December 2017, gaining 8,500 full-time positions but losing 59,300 part-time gigs.

That's 46,100 fewer people in part-time posts in January 2018 than the same time the previous year -- a 3.4 per cent drop.

The province hiked minimum wage by some 20 per cent to $14 per hour at the beginning of the year, a move some economists said could result in mass job losses as employers look to reduce costs.

The Conference Board of Canada's chief economist Craig Alexander said in a note that while some may speculate the provincial employment drop could be related to the new minimum wage, there is a lot of volatility in job numbers and time will tell to what extent the two are correlated.