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Unemployment holds steady but may get worse before it improves, warn analysts
OTTAWA (CP) - Canada's jobless situation could get
worse before it begins to get better, analysts warned
Friday. The national unemployment rate held steady at
seven per cent in June for the fourth consecutive month,
but lurking behind that seemingly benign report was some
After adding a modest number of jobs over the past six
months, the still-lacklustre economy actually shed about
13,000 positions in June.
On top of that, the average number of hours worked has
dropped in the past three months by almost seven per cent
compared with the first quarter of 2001.
In the current sluggish economy, said economist Warren
Lovely of CIBC World Markets, even employers who
don't want to lay off staff are cutting back work hours.
"The bottom line is, this report shows that the Canadian labour market had been living on borrowed time," said
Even worse, most of the new jobs created this year were part-time positions, which tend to pay less, have less
security and mean lower productivity.
"It's not a good trade-off, to trade full-time workers for part-time workers and that's increasingly what the
Canadian economy has done . . . so you get an increasing stock of under-utilized labour," said Lovely.
The jobless rate could continue to edge up through the second half of this year, possibly as high as 7.5 per cent
before the economy turns around, analysts warned.
"I think we're going to see the unemployment rate go higher before it goes lower," warned Peter Drake, deputy
chief economist with Toronto Dominion Bank.
The latest U.S. unemployment report also brought grim news Friday, showing the jobless rate there rose to 4.5 per
cent from 4.4 per cent the previous month as businesses cut 114,000 jobs in June.
Still, some analysts say the picture isn't entirely bleak.
The two weak jobless reports give central bankers plenty of evidence to continue lowering interest rates in the
hope of stimulating growth.
And those lower rates are helping to buoy consumer spirits.
"A few factors behind that (consumer confidence) are that interest rates remain very low, we did have tax cuts and
- despite the slowdown - we still have an unemployment rate of seven per cent, which is quite low," said Doug
Porter, senior economist with brokerage Nesbitt Burns.
"Quite simply, a lot of factors that consumers worry about aren't that negative," he added.
"They can read the headlines about a slowdown, but in the average person's day-to-day life, it's not obvious yet."
Analysts have been divided over whether the Bank of Canada would see enough economic weakness, both here and
in the U.S., to again lower interest rates at its next scheduled meeting July 17.
But several now say Friday's report tips the balance towards at least one and maybe two more rate cuts this
"This report says rates need to come down here in Canada, still," said Lovely.
"The Canadian economy still needs monetary stimulus and this . . . gives the (central bank) governor the cover he
needs to take interest rates lower."
The bank has lowered its key lending rate by 1.25 percentage points so far this year to try to kick-start the
That's far less than the 2.75-percentage-point cut in the U.S., which has been hit much harder by the economic
The Canadian dollar was rattled by the labour news, falling to 65.67 cents US, down 0.39 cents from Thursday's
Students bore the brunt of Friday's weak job report from Statistics Canada. Employment among youth dropped
by 26,000 last month.
That was partly offset by a small rise in the number of jobs held by adult men, while women over 25 saw their rate
Despite the June loss of jobs, the number of people looking for work also dropped - students, for the most part -
which helped hold the jobless rate steady.
About 1.132 million people sought work in June.
Alberta's booming energy sector helped the province add 8,000 new jobs, but its unemployment rate edged up to
4.6 per cent as more people looked for work.
In contrast, British Columbia lost 16,000 part-time jobs while in Ontario employment was little changed and its
jobless rate edged up to six per cent.
Quebec saw a jump in part-time work which offset a decline in full-time jobs. A drop in the number of job-seekers,
however, pushed its unemployment rate down slightly to 8.8 per cent.
A quick look at June jobs (May in brackets):
Unemployment rate: 7.0 per cent (7.0)
Number unemployed: 1,132,100 (1,137,400)
Number working: 15,095,700 (15,108,700)
Youth (15-24 years) unemployment: 12.0 per cent (12.1)
Men (25 plus) unemployment: 6.2 per cent (6.2)
Women (25 plus) unemployment: 5.8 per cent (5.8)
Here's what happened in the provinces, with the May rate in brackets.
-Newfoundland 15.2 (15.6)
-Prince Edward Island 10.0 (12.0)
-Nova Scotia 10.1 (10.0)
-New Brunswick 10.5 (11.2)
-Quebec 8.8 (9.0)
-Ontario 6.0 (5.9)
-Manitoba 5.4 (4.9)
-Saskatchewan 5.6 (6.3)
-Alberta 4.6 (4.5)
-British Columbia 7.0 (6.8)
Statistics Canada also released seasonally adjusted, three-month moving average unemployment rates for major
cities but cautioned the figures may fluctuate widely because they are based on small statistical samples. The
previous three-month moving average is in brackets.
-St. John's, Nfld., 8.8 (8.1)
-Halifax, 6.6 (6.7)
-Saint John, N.B., 9.1 (9.7)
-Chicoutimi-Jonquiere, Que., 10.8 (11.1)
-Quebec, 8.8 (8.3)
-Trois-Rivieres, Que., 7.9 (8.2)
-Sherbrooke, Que., 7.2 (8.0)
-Montreal, 8.2 (8.0)
-Ottawa-Hull, 5.7 (5.6)
-Toronto, 6.0 (5.9)
-Hamilton, 6.5 (6.2)
-Kitchener, Ont., 5.7 (5.6)
-London, Ont., 6.3 (6.1)
-Oshawa, Ont., 5.2 (5.3)
-St. Catharines-Niagara, Ont., 6.4 (6.6)
-Sudbury, Ont., 8.1 (8.0)
-Thunder Bay, Ont., 7.7 (8.0)
-Windsor, Ont., 6.5 (6.8)
-Winnipeg, 5.2 (5.1)
-Regina, 5.9 (5.6)
-Saskatoon, 6.3 (6.3)
-Calgary, 4.2 (4.3)
-Edmonton, 5.3 (5.4)
-Vancouver, 5.5 (5.4)
-Victoria, 6.3 (5.8)
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