OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada added 378,200 jobs in September and the unemployment rate fell to 9.0%, handily beating analyst expectations, as children returned to school and the economy continued to reopen from coronavirus shutdowns, Statistics Canada said on Friday.
Analysts in a Reuters poll had predicted a gain of 156,600 jobs and for the unemployment rate to fall to 9.7% from 10.2% in August.
The gain brought employment to within 720,000 of its pre-pandemic level, Statscan said.
“It’s a good number. It’s very encouraging that we didn’t decelerate in September,” said Andrew Kelvin, chief Canada strategist at TD Securities.
The Canadian dollar strengthened to a three-week high at 1.3132 to the greenback, or 76.15 U.S. cents.
Full-time employment rose by 334,000 and compared with 44,200 new part-time positions. Employment in the goods-producing sector grew by 75,100 jobs, while the services sector grew by 303,100 positions.
Black Canadians saw big employment gains, with their jobless rate falling 5.9 percentage points to 11.7%, while the unemployment rate for Filipino Canadians fell to 8.5%, Statscan data showed. The white jobless rate was 7%.
Employment in educational services rose by 5% in September, as students returned to school and staffing levels were adjusted to support COVID-19 classroom changes.
That helped boost employment for mothers with children under the age of 18, bringing employment levels for both mothers and fathers in line with February.
However, more mothers continued to work less than half their usual hours than fathers, with hours lost due to both personal reasons, like child care demands, and reduced shifts.
And with COVID-19 cases surging in Canada, leading to fresh restrictions in the most populous provinces, economists warned there were major headwinds on the horizon for the coming months.
“I would be shocked if job growth didn’t slow in the next couple of months, and the economy as well, and I suspect we’re going to see cooler growth rates ahead,” said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.
If those who wanted to work but did not look for a job were included as unemployed in September, the adjusted unemployment rate would have been 11.9%, Statscan said.
(Reporting by Julie Gordon, additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Fergal Smith and Nichola Saminather in Toronto, Editing by Toby Chopra, Andrea Ricci and Chizu Nomiyama)