Canada’s economy took a surprise turn for the month of March, with employment increasing by more than 40,000, dropping the unemployment rate to 7.1%.
Statistics Canada says heavy growth in March caused the employment rate to shoot up by 0.2% for the first quarter of the year, the fourth consecutive growth of 0.2%.
On a year-over-year basis, employment has grown by 130,000 since March of 2015, along with a 1.2% increase of hours worked nationally.
Even Alberta saw employment gains last month of 19,000, largely driven by increases in retail and wholesale trade, according to Statistics Canada, causing the unemployment rate to drop 0.8% to 7.1%.
Here in B.C., however, little changed from February to March. Employment grew by 72,000 on a year-over-year basis, making B.C. the fastest growing province in the country. More people searching for work meant the unemployment rate saw slight growth year-over-year.
Many of the national gains can largely be attributed to the healthcare and social assistance industries, as well as food services and hospitality. On a month-to-month basis, food services and accommodation jobs grew by 18,000, but there were still decreases of 27,000 in the 12 months to March.