Canada's volatile jobs survey posts biggest monthly drop since 2009

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On the flip side, Statistics Canada reported the Canadian economy generated 49,000 full-time positions last month.

Victoria saw an unemployment increase for the second consecutive month at 3.9 per cent from 3.5.

However, several experts made sure to note that before trying to draw conclusions from the January report, one should consider the well-known month-to-month volatility in the jobs figures.

However, economists also pointed to possible connections between Ontario's minimum wage and Canada's stronger average wage growth of 3.3 per cent in January.

"A mysterious mix of good and bad, with the latter's impact blunted by how strong job gains were in the lead up to these figures", Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, said in a note to investors.

Nationally, the unemployment rate increased slightly by 0.1 percentage points to 5.9 per cent in January.

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.

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Rocco Rossi, president of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, said the numbers "reflect the concerns we have heard from businesses for months".

"I don't think that the January number is the start of a whole series of declines - I think it's more of a reflection of the fact that we were tracking abnormally strong numbers behind us", Alexander said.

Locally, while Prince Albert's unemployment rate was down to 8.4 per cent from 8.7 the year prior, a number of factors contributed to this. Poloz has repeatedly said future rate decisions will be highly data dependent.

Economists are divided on how minimum wage increases play out.

In the province, average hourly wage rates for permanent employees in January rose 3.19 per cent from the same time previous year. While there were job losses in Quebec, New Brunswick, and Manitoba, Alberta saw very little in the way of job losses as part-time workers were replaced with full-time workers. He said it reinforces the view that the Bank of Canada will proceed "ultra-cautiously" through the rest of 2018.

Mr. Shenfeld noted that the participation rate in the Statscan survey declined in Ontario, and said: "Hard to argue that higher minimum wages would cause Ontarians to decide not to work or look for jobs".

"But proving causality may remain contentious".

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