Sask. unemployment rate hits 4.1% in November

The StarPhoenix December 7,2013 - Saskatchewan posted strong year-over-year job growth and the lowest unemployment rate in Canada in November, according to Statistics Canada's labour force survey released Friday.

There were 552,300 persons employed in Saskatchewan during November, 12,300 more than in November 2012, the federal agency said. The year-over-year employment growth of 2.3 per cent is the second-highest percentage increase in Canada, behind only Alberta, while both Manitoba and B.C. lost jobs over the same period.

However, on a seasonally adjusted basis, the number of jobs in November actually fell 1,600 from October, Accordingly, Saskatchewan's unemployment rate increased 0.5 per cent from 3.6 per cent in October to 4.1 per cent in November. Despite the decrease in employment, Saskatchewan still boasted the lowest unemployment rate in Canada for the eleventh consecutive month. Economy Minister Bill Boyd said thousands of new jobs are being created in a number of different areas, citing year-over-year employment increases of 6,800 in transportation and warehousing, 3,600 jobs in professional, scientific and technical services, 1,600 in manufacturing jobs and 1,400 in agriculture, "This shows Saskatchewan has a strong and diversified economy," Boyd said in a press release. "Even when there are job losses in one sector, they are more than offset by the new jobs that are being created in other areas."

Also of note: Saskatchewan's ¦¦ youth unemployment rate of 6.1 per cent is also the lowest among provinces, and less than half the national rate of 13.4 per cent; Regina continues to have ¦ the lowest unemployment rate among major cities at 3.9 per cent, and Saskatoon third-lowest at 4.2 per cent; ¦¦Aboriginal employment is up 2,800 in the past year, while unemployment is down from 11.6 per cent to 10.7 per cent.

Boyd added that more than 12,000 positions are listed on saskjobs.ca, including more than 4,000 in trades, transport and construction. "One of the challenges of a growing province is that fact that we have a labour shortage in some areas," Boyd said. "Our government is working to identify those areas and create more training opportunities in those areas." But United Steelworkers economist and former NDP leadership candidate Erin Weir noted that with employment falling and the labour force increasing, unemployment is on the upswing in November.

"Statistics Canada reported that a growing number of people looked for a shrinking number of jobs in Saskatchewan last month,'' Weir said in a commentary. "With 1,300 more people entering Saskatchewan's labour force last month, unemployment rose by 2,900."

Weir added that the November job numbers do not reflect the potash layoffs announced in recent days. "In other words, Saskatchewan's job market stumbled even before the potash layoffs, which will only make matters worse."

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