Red Deer area unemployment rate begins 2018 at 5.5%

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The biggest loss of jobs in a single month in nine years highlighted January's unemployment figures from Statistics Canada, while Victoria's jobless rate gets closer to four per cent.

The largest employment declines were in Ontario and Quebec.

Despite Canada's healthy economic performance past year, Alexander said the surprising pace of job creation had been stronger than the other data.

Ontario lost 59,300 part-time positions and created 8,500 full-time spots.

The overall result was dragged down by a loss of 137,000 part-time positions in what was the category's largest one-month collapse on record. Ms. Donald said Ontario's losses were proportional to the economy.

Sudbury's poor job performance in recent months is likely related to some extent on the fact Vale closed Coleman Mine in November to fix a ventilation compartment. "But Ontario employs 40 per cent of Canadians", she said.

The net decline helped push the national unemployment rate up to 5.9 per cent in January, from 5.8 per cent the previous month. However, about half of those positive numbers were within the survey's margin of error.

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Despite a small rise, B.C.'s unemployment rate is still the best in Canada.

The release left economists puzzled, especially because the data indicates that labour force participation, the share of Canadians working or looking for work, dropped.

"We will want to see a few more months of data to judge whether there has been an impact from the minimum-wage hike", said Josh Nye, economist with RBC.

The higher minimum rate could have underpinned Canada's stronger wage growth.

On a year-over-year basis, employment grew by 289,000 or 1.6 per cent nationally. Compared with the year before, average hourly wages for permanent employees expanded by 3.3 per cent. The growth represents an increase of 2.8 per cent.

January's job losses lowered expectations that the Bank of Canada would hike interest rates at its next rate announcement scheduled for March.