In June, employment remained little changed for the fifth consecutive month following strong growth in the second half of 1998. The number of people in the labour force fell sharply (-81,000), with youths aged 15 to 24 accounting for most of the decline. As a result, unemployment fell by an estimated 84,000, pushing the unemployment rate down to a nine-year low of 7.6% (-0.5 percentage points).
To a large extent, the plateau in employment observed over the preceding five months at the national level reflects the lack of job growth in Ontario and Quebec.
In June, employment fell 29,000 in Ontario, mostly among youths. Since February, employment in this province has shown little overall change. However, employment over the last 12 months is up 160,000 (+2.9%) on the strength of gains made from August 1998 to February 1999. A sharp drop in the number of persons looking for work (-47,000), primarily among youths, pushed the unemployment rate down 0.7 percentage points to 6.3%.
In Quebec, employment levels have varied little since February. This follows the strong employment growth in the second half of 1998 and leaves employment up 68,000 (+2.1%) over the past 12 months. The unemployment rate in June dipped 0.3 percentage points to 9.6%.
Employment in Newfoundland declined by 5,000 following an increase of 12,000 in May. Despite fluctuations, employment has been following an upward trend in the province, with gains totaling 9,000 (+4.2%) since June 1998.
In New Brunswick, employment fell 4,000, following little change in recent months. Despite this decline, employment in the province is up 10,000 (+3.2%) compared with June 1998. A decrease in the number of people looking for work, mostly youths, caused the unemployment rate to fall 1.3 percentage points to 8.9% in June.
Most of the Western provinces showed significant employment gains in June. Employment rose by 4,000 in Manitoba after slight gains in each of the preceding three months. Since June 1998, employment in the province has increased by 21,000 (+3.8%).
In Saskatchewan, employment increased by 6,000 after a decline of 4,000 in May. As a result of the increase in June, employment in the province is up 8,000 (+1.8%) from a year ago.
Employment in Alberta rose by 14,000, more than offsetting the decline in May. Over the past 12 months, employment in the province has increased by 55,000 (+3.7%). The employment gain in June pushed the unemployment rate down to 5.6% (-0.7 percentage points).
Employment in June was little changed in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and British Columbia.