Canada’s jobless rate falls to the lowest on record in March

By The Canadian Press and Claire Fenton

In the latest look at the labour market, Statistics Canada reports another good month for the economy.

The unemployment rate stands at 5.3 per cent, the lowest since the 1970s. Unemployment is down 0.2 points from February’s 5.5 per cent.

More than 70,000 jobs were added to the market in March, further offsetting January’s job losses which were blamed primarily on pandemic restrictions due to the Omicron variant.

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Statistics Canada says the employment gains were driven by women aged 55 and older, and men between 25 and 54.

Provincially, the agency says gains were concentrated in Ontario and Quebec.

CIBC senior economist Andrew Grantham says there may be room for the unemployment rate to fall a little further, given areas of the country like oil-producing provinces were not at full employment before the pandemic struck.

Statistics Canada also says the unemployment rate would have been 7.2 per cent had it included in calculations people who wanted a job but did not look for one, falling to pre-pandemic levels for the first time.

Since hitting a peak of 1.5 million in April 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people wanting work but not actively looking has fallen to 377,000, similar in size and proportion to the overall labour force witnessed in the month of March in each of the three years before 2020.

Statistics Canada says the reasons they weren’t looking for work varied. Just over one-quarter didn’t look because of an illness or disability. A further one-fifth were part of a group waiting for a recall or reply from an employer, or who didn’t think there was anything available.

Nearly an additional fifth pointed to personal and family responsibilities as the reason they paused their job search.

The agency says employers will have to tap into this group amid widespread labour shortages, though their ranks are falling.

The tightening of the labour market also meant average hourly wages were up to 3.4 per cent year-over-year in March, up from 3.1 per cent in February.

More to come

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