Part-time work has become the mainstay of job creation in Canada, a worrisome trend in the country’s labour market.

From September to October, part-time employment jumped by 67,000 spots and full-time fell by 23,000, according to Statistics Canada’s monthly labour report released on Friday.

Even though Canada gained a net 44,000 jobs last month, the number of hours worked declined because of the shift from full-time work to part-time.

“Disappointing,” said David Watt, chief economist with HSBC Bank Canada. “It is consistent with an economy that lacks underlying momentum,” he said.

Nowhere was this felt more than among men who are in their prime working age of between 25 and 54. This cohort has suffered a staggering loss of 63,000 full-time positions over the year, compared with a gain of 36,000 part-time spots.

Most of the full-time employment declines were in manufacturing as well as natural resources, a sector that has steadily shrunk owing to the downturn in the oil patch. There are now 20,000 fewer jobs in natural resources compared with last year, even though the sector added positions in October.

The prolonged commodities slump, in addition to the decades-long decline in manufacturing, can also be seen in the involuntary part-time employment rate. Nearly 20,000 men were forced to take part-time positions because they could not find full-time work, an increase of 12 per cent over the year.

Over all, part-time work has underpinned Canada’s job growth over the past 12 months. Of the 140,000 new positions, 124,000 are part time. The average number of hours worked per week declined from 33.3 hours to 32.9.

“The leaning of jobs towards part-time rather than full-time meant that the details of the report weren’t as impressive as the headline gain,” Andrew Grantham, an economist with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, said in a note. “That continues a trend we’ve seen a lot over the past year.”

New positions were created in construction, wholesale, retail trade and education services. Jobs vanished in manufacturing, business services, health care and social assistance. The jobless rate remained at 7 per cent, as expected.

The survey continued to show some disparity between the resource-producing regions and the other provinces.

Employment increased in Ontario and British Columbia. Oil-producing Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan shed positions. Alberta, which has been hit the hardest from the drop in oil prices, added 9,000 new positions to mark its third consecutive month of job gains. But the province’s unemployment rate is stuck at 8.5 per cent, higher than the national level.

“The regional divergence persisted with the three oil-producing provinces accumulating job losses of 49,000 this year,” Royal Bank of Canada said in a note.

Analysts polled by Bloomberg had forecast a loss of 15,000 positions nationally.

In the United States, employers added 161,000 jobs, another healthy labour report that boosted expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve Board will raise interest rates.

The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Nov. 04, 2016 8:36AM EDT
Last updated Friday, Nov. 04, 2016 4:17PM EDT