The unemployment rate fell by 0.2 of a percentage point in May, bringing it to 7.4 per cent, Statistics Canada reports.
The significant improvement comes as a result of an increase of 22,300 in employment in May, coupled with a drop of 27,800 in labour force participation.
In addition, all the increase was in full-time employment, which grew by 32,900 while part-time fell by 10,600. However, the increase was also the result of 29,500 more self-employed, against a drop of 7,300 in employees. The quality of self-employed “jobs” is not easy to ascertain and has been the subject of debate.
Among the provinces, unemployment fell by 0.5 of a percentage point in New Brunswick, Quebec and Alberta, while it grew by 0.1 in Manitoba, 0.7 in P.E.I. and 0.8 in Newfoundland and Labrador. It also fell in Nova Scotia and British Columbia; Ontario and Saskatchewan were unchanged.
Public-sector employment fell by 44,300 or 1.2 per cent, led by educational services. Private-sector employment grew by 37,100 or 0.3 per cent. Wholesale and retail trade added 34,400 positions while manufacturing lost 22,500.
The average weekly hours in May were 35.4, up from 35.1 in 2010. The average hourly wage was $22.85, up just under two per cent from $22.41 a year ago.
In the U.S., the unemployment rate for May was 9.1 per cent, up 0.1 from April. Participation was also unchanged, unlike in Canada. Average weekly hours were 33.6, up 0.2 from May 2010, and average private-sector hourly wages were $22.98, up 1.8 per cent from $22.57 in the previous year.
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