Montreal unemployment rate drops below Toronto's (again) in January

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The western part of Alberta once again has the second lowest unemployment rate in the province.

"It might catch your eye that you have this massive print in youth employment, but the actual story is that youth employment over the past year is just flat; it was reversing some of the losses we've seen recently", said Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC World Markets.

The unemployment rate in Northeast B.C. saw an increase in January.

Here in Saskatchewan, employment dropped by 2,800 positions, but the unemployment rate fell slightly to 5.5 per cent as the province's labour force shrunk to 610,100 from 613,200.

The participation rate - the percentage of working age people employed or actively looking for work - in the Montreal region was 66.6 per cent in January, down from 66.8 per cent the month before and from 67.9 in January 2018.

Provincially, B.C. continued to have the lowest unemployment rate in the country for the 17th month in a row in January, at 4.7 per cent while nationally, Canada's unemployment rate was 5.8 per cent. At the same time, the number of self-employed declined by 61,000. "On a trend-cycle basis, self-employment has levelled off in recent months", said StatsCan.

The jobs data is one of the last major indicators ahead of the March 6 rate decision.

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"Definitely the headline job gain was very impressive", said BMO chief economist Douglas Porter.

According to BC Stats, the province saw job gains in agriculture, up 1,100 jobs, and utilities, up 500 jobs.

"Volatility returned with a notable increase in employment during the month of January", he wrote. The unemployment rate did rise, but only because of an increase in the participation rate.

"Overall, it's been a good day for readings on the Canadian economy". That said, first quarter growth is still setting up to be somewhat weak given what we know is happening in the oil patch.

The nation-wide data can be viewed through Statistics Canada's website.

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