Canada ends decent year for jobs with December slowdown
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employers capped another decent year of hiring by taking a breather in December.

Employment eked out a small gain of 9,300 for the month, but the increase was driven by part-time work and self-employed workers, Statistics Canada said Friday in Ottawa. Full-time employment fell in December for the first time in three months.

For all of 2018, the added 163,300 jobs — all of them full-time — for a 0.9 per cent gain. That pace is consistent with an coping with an aging workforce and settling down into slower rates of growth. Employment had increased by an outsized 427,300 last year, and has averaged annualized 225,000 since 2010.

Even with the slowdown in job gains, the unemployment rate held at its lowest in more than four decades at 5.6 per cent. Labour force participation last year fell to its lowest in two decades.

The biggest negative in the labor market data continues to be wages, with annual gains still hovering at a sluggish 2 per cent in December. Wage gains for permanent workers were just 1.5 per cent last month.

Another weak point was hours worked, which rose just 0.9 per cent in December from a year earlier. That’s down from a 2.1 per cent pace a month earlier.

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The weakness in December was mostly driven by service-producing sectors that had been leading gains all year. Manufacturing led gains last month, with a 23,900 employment gain.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicted the unemployment rate would rise to 5.7 per cent in December and a gain of 10,000 jobs.

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