Review of Economic Statistics — May 18, 2018

Release date: May 18, 2018

Review of Economic Statistics — May 18, 2018 - Transcript

(The Statistics Canada symbol and Canada wordmark appear on screen with the title: "Review of Economic Statistics — May 18, 2018")

(Background music plays while title card with the text "Review of Economic Statistics — May 18, 2018" appears on screen.)

Peter Frayne: Good morning and welcome to the Review of Economic Statistics. I'm Peter Frayne.

Guy Gellatly: And I'm Guy Gellatly.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Peter Frayne, Head, Media Relations, Statistics Canada. Guy Gallatly, Principal Researcher.")

Peter: Guy, labour force data for the month of April have just been released. We're starting to get an emerging picture of employment trends for the first part of the year. What are you seeing?

Guy: Well, there was little change in that headline employment number in April, but the data do build on some of the developing trends that we've seen, really through the first part of the year, particularly in terms of full-time work. So, overall, the pace of employment growth has slowed in 2018 when you compare it back to the stronger numbers we've had in 2017, particularly late in the year. Overall, over the first four months of this year, total employment is down about 40,000 from levels at year-end, although much of that reflects that large decline in part-time employment that we had right at the start of the year. So, one area where we've seen, actually, a fair amount of momentum is in those full-time numbers. They're up about 100,000 over the first four months of the year with some support from growth in Ontario and Alberta.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Full-time employment increased during early 2018, as the overall pace of employment growth slowed.")

Peter: And what about the unemployment rate?

Guy: Unemployment had trended lower for much of 2017, right across the country for the most part. And coming into the New Year, it's sort of at or near record lows, so basically unemployment has been under 6% nationally since late last year. A good example, actually, at the provincial level: let's look at Quebec and let's look at Ontario —the average rate over the first four months of this year is 5.5% in both provinces. It's very low by historic standards. If you go to B.C., the unemployment rate actually edged up in April to 5%, and that's after seven consecutive months of being below that 5% mark.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Canada's unemployment rate remained below 6% during the first four months of 2018.")

Peter: Now, we also have data on manufacturing and retail sales for the month of March, as we continue to build that picture for the first part of the year. So, what are you seeing in there?

Guy: Two solid gains in the manufacturing data to end the quarter. Sales were up 1.4% in March and that follows a stronger, revised gain of 2.7% in the February numbers. Now, transportation equipment, an important contributor to growth in both months. February was really an auto-led month, but in terms of the growth in March, some of it was coming from aerospace products and parts, as well as some support from other transportation industries. Retail is an interesting story as well. Retail sales edged up, or they rose, throughout that first quarter. In March, retail was up 0.6%, largely on higher volumes. And again, a lot of that strength is really coming from the auto numbers. That was true in March and it was certainly true in February as well. So, a lot of momentum really coming on the auto side in terms of supporting retail sales.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Manufacturing sale and retails sales advanced in March.")

Peter: Thanks, Guy. Final word, there's something new in our website for users of labour market information. Statistics Canada has begun publishing an updated labour market indicators dashboard. It contains an interactive chart and maps with labour force characteristics at the national, provincial and census metropolitan area levels. Check it out on our website or follow the links at the bottom of this page.

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