Windsor's unemployment rate sees significant drop

A worker in Ontario

The biggest loss of jobs in a single month in nine years highlighted January's unemployment figures from Statistics Canada, while Victoria's jobless rate gets closer to four per cent.

Also, because the labour-force survey relies on Canadians to report their income and employment status, it is not as reliable as the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours, which uses payroll-tax data and is released about six-to-eight weeks after the end of the month.

"Overall, a mysterious mix of good and bad, with the latter's impact blunted by how strong job gains were in the lead-up to these figures", CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld wrote in a research note to clients. The jobs report can also be volatile month-to-month.

Ontario shed some 59,300 part-time jobs in January, the same month the province hiked minimum wage about 20 per cent to $14 an hour - but experts say it may be too soon to know how much the two are correlated.

The unemployment rate in Medicine Hat has once again gone up.

In total, 560,100 people in the province were employed in January. Ontario lost 51,000 jobs in January, entirely due to losses in part-time work.

Compared to January 2017, unemployment in Nanaimo has fallen from 5.9 per cent.

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January's job losses lowered expectations that the Bank of Canada would hike interest rates at its next rate announcement scheduled for March.

"The concentration of the job loss in Ontario and the focus upon lost part-time jobs in that province will no doubt feed debate on whether large minimum wage hikes took a toll on employment, but proving causality may remain contentious", Derek Holt, Scotiabank's head of capital markets economics, said in a commentary. "But the details also looking wonky, with all of the job losses in part-time work".

Victoria saw an unemployment increase for the second consecutive month at 3.9 per cent from 3.5. The unemployment rate in Alberta also fell by 1.7 percent, to 7.0 percent.

With files from the Canadian Press.

Even with the overall decline in January, Canada has been on a strong run of job creation that has seen the country add 414,100 full-time jobs over a 12-month period.

"This is a mixed bag for the Bank of Canada because we did see a significant rise in wage inflation ... which might counter the disappointment on the headline jobs count", Shenfeld said.

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