Employment declined on both sides of the Ottawa River as overall employment declined to 705,100 jobs in August, a decline of 3,600 positions from July. A corresponding drop in the number of people seeking work meant the unemployment rate held steady at 6.3 per cent.
Even as the capital’s labour market cools, the year-over-year picture remains positive. There were 8,800 more people working in Ottawa-Gatineau last month than in August 2011. The number of full-time positions increased by 12,900 jobs, but was offset by the loss of 5,300 part-time positions, according to Statistics Canada analyst Vincent Ferrao.
The number of young people aged 15-24 working declined by 8,000 positions.
It’s unclear whether the anticipated layoffs within the federal civil service have taken effect. There were 166,600 people working locally in public administration positions last month, a decrease of 1,100 from July and down from 171,000 in May. However, that’s still up compared to the 158,500 people working in public administration positions in August 2011.
The technology sector in Ottawa-Gatineau posted gains in August. There were 52,200 people working in the technology field last month, up 1,000 from July and up 7,700 from August 2011.
Nationally, Canada's economy hammered out 34,300 new jobs last month, a figure that topped expectations but one that was coolly received by economists surveying the cross-currents beneath the headline number.
All the gains in the August jobs report from Statistics Canada were part-time jobs. As well, there were heavy losses in the goods producing sector, which generally pays higher wages.
And the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.3 per cent as the labour force grew in step with the employment gains.
Bank of Montreal economist Doug Porter called the overall report "a little better than expected ... (but) underwhelming."
"I wouldn't get too excited because a lot of the strength was on the surface," he explained. "It was due to a big rise in part-time jobs and there was actually a decline in hours worked."
"A quick way to look at it was the unemployment rate was unchanged. It's been unchanged from three months ago and it's unchanged from a year ago."
Particularly disconcerting was that 44,000 construction jobs were lost during the month, he said, many in Ontario, which shed 24,900 workers overall.
But given that analysts had expected only a 10,000 bump in employment growth in August, Jimmy Jean, economic analyst with Desjardins Capital Markets, pronounced the report satisfactory.
He noted that the latest performance brings the monthly jobs increase for the year back to an acceptable average of nearly 20,000.
"(That's) a performance that needs to be appreciated in the current context. Once more, the Canadian job market shows its resilience to the headwinds," he said.
As well, hourly wages continued to rise, to 3.8 per cent higher than last year from 3.6 per cent in July.
The Canadian result was far stronger than what occurred in the United States, which saw a miserly 96,000 jobs increase for the month, below expectations and below the growth needed just to keep up with labour market growth.
The August report in Canada was almost a direct mirror image of the disappointing July data, when Statistics Canada reported the economy had shed 30,400 jobs. Even more striking, almost all the losses in July came in Quebec and were part time, whereas in August almost all the gains - 32,500 - were also located in that province and were part time.
With the latest gains, Statistics Canada said employment in Canada has increased by one per cent, or by 177,000 jobs, over the past year, with most of the gains in full-time work. Over the past two months, the number of hours worked by Canadians has risen by 0.7 per cent.
But the August numbers went against the grain since all the increase came in part-time work, which added 46,700 employees, while there were 12,500 fewer full-time workers.
Meanwhile, goods producing industries shed 36,400 workers overall during the month, with construction dropping 44,000 jobs and manufacturing also down slightly.
The gainers were in the services sector, more than making up the slack by adding 70,600 jobs. Transportation and warehousing was up 37,000; professional, scientific and technical services, 20,000; building and other support services, 19,000; and natural resources up 8,800 workers.
Regionally, aside from Quebec, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba also registered significant job increases, while Ontario saw the biggest decline.
-With reports by the Canadian Press