Ottawa-Gatineau adds 3,900 jobs in October

Employers in the National Capital Region collectively went on a hiring binge in October, adding 3,900 employees to their payrolls, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

That’s the second-highest single-month increase in more than three years and brings Ottawa-Gatineau to within 200 jobs of the all-time high of 722,200 employed residents in the region, set in July.

It also helped push the region’s unemployment rate down to 6.2 per cent, a drop of 20 basis points from September’s 6.4 per cent.

The gains were unevenly spread across the region’s economic sectors. Year-over-year, Ottawa hotels and food service providers added 6,000 jobs, while professional, scientific and technical service providers collectively grew by a whopping 10,800 positions, according to Statistics Canada data.

The region’s largest employer, the federal government, has added 3,900 local positions across Ottawa-Gatineau over the past year.

On the flip side, the city’s construction and educational sectors both contracted.

On a month-over-month basis, the closely watched tech sector shed 1,900 jobs in October and currently employs some 49,900 residents. That’s still up from 41,200 positions a year earlier.

Nationally, the economy gained 44,000 jobs last month, fuelled entirely by part-time employment which offset a loss in full-time positions, according to Statistics Canada.

The result is further evidence that Canada is struggling to create "quality, high-paying jobs," said David Madani, senior Canada economist at Capital Economics.

"Even though headline employment is rising, overall income growth still appears to be slowing sharply," Madani wrote in a note to clients.

The overall increase in employment was driven by 67,000 additional part-time positions for the month, while the number of full-time jobs fell by 23,000.

The unemployment rate held steady at 7.0 per cent as more people entered the labour market, looking for work.

Economists had expected a loss of 10,000 jobs overall and the unemployment rate to remain unchanged, according to Thomson Reuters.

The increase in October follows an addition of some 67,000 jobs the previous month, which saw gains in both part-time and full-time work. There were also 26,000 jobs added to economy in August.

"All things considered, the economy has recovered fairly well from oil-related misfortunes earlier this year, but the low quality of recent job gains is still troubling," Madani said.

"The bigger challenge in the coming months for policy-makers will be trying to manage a housing slowdown without triggering a painful bust."

Compared with a year ago, there were 140,000 more jobs in October, including nearly 16,000 full-time and 124,000 part-time positions.

There were 21,000 more jobs in the goods-producing sector last month, boosted by a gain of 24,000 positions in the construction industry, which offset losses elsewhere. The natural resources sector also added 10,000 jobs, its first notable increase since March 2015.

Jobs were also added in other sectors, including wholesale and retail trade.

Ontario saw a 25,000 boost in jobs, while British Columbia increased by 15,000. The number of jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador fell by 5,600.

Statistics Canada also reported Friday that Canada's trade deficit hit a record $4.1 billion in September due to the import from South Korea of a module for the Hebron offshore oil project in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Economists had expected a deficit of $1.7 billion for September.

Imports rose 4.7 per cent to a record $47.6 billion in the month as import prices grew by 2.4 per cent and volumes increased 2.3 per cent.

Exports climbed 0.1 per cent to $43.5 billion as a 0.9 per cent increase in prices was offset by a 0.8 per cent decrease in volumes.

- With reports by the Canadian Press