Canada Sheds Jobs in March: StatsCan

It may have been the first week of April, but it was no joke, as the Canadian economy pulled a surprise, and dropped 7,200 jobs in March, its first decline in seven months.

Statistics Canada data came out Friday and reinforced market expectations that the Bank of Canada will keep interest rates unchanged next month.

The unemployment rate in this country stayed put at 5.8%. The tidings proved a surprise as analysts had been looking for a marginal gain of 1,000 jobs in March, following outsized gains in the previous two months, and no change in the jobless rate.

Despite the drop in March, employment rose by 116,000 jobs in the first quarter.

Analysts said the small decline in March, following months of gains, was unlikely to alter the Bank of Canada's view of employment as a bright spot in Canada's economy.

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz expressed guarded optimism earlier this week that Canada would emerge from a soft patch, but said the economic outlook still warrants an interest rate below the neutral range.

The central bank, which has hiked rates five times since July 2017, held rates steady last month. The next rate decision will be announced April 24.

The economy added 1,100 goods producing sector jobs, mostly in manufacturing, and shed 8,800 services sector jobs, mostly in healthcare and social assistance, and the business, building and other support services category.

StatsCan went onto say full-time jobs dropped by 6,400 from February to March, while 900 part-time jobs were shed.

Ontario and Quebec shed jobs in the month, while British Columbia and Saskatchewan posted job gains.

The average year-over-year wage growth of permanent employees - a figure closely watched by the central bank - was 2.3% in March, up from 2.2% in February.