The Canadian economy added 54,700 new jobs in December, more than double the number projected, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.9% from 6.0 percent in November, a 22-month low.
Many part-time workers have moved to more permanent positions and hence the number of full-time jobs has increased by 123,000. Newfoundland and Labrador saw a fall in employment, whereas Ontario and Saskatchewan saw an increase.
Most of this year’s gains are expected to be driven by newcomers to the country and not because of the people unemployed during the pandemic returning to the labour force. Earlier there was a decline in immigrant flow due to international travel restrictions. However, the number of very recent immigrants in Canada has recently recovered to pre-pandemic levels, “very recent immigrants” being used to refer to those immigrants who arrived in Canada within the last five years.
According to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, the total number of very recent immigrants of core working age (25 to 54 years) who are most likely to participate in the labour market increased by 0.6 percent (+5,000) in December compared to the previous year.
Professional, scientific, and technical services added the most jobs (31.3 percent), followed by wholesale and retail trade (up 20,000 jobs, 28.7 percent). According to StatsCan, this reflects the importance of both higher-skilled and lower-skilled employment in integrating newcomers into the labour market. The National Occupational Classification (NOC) classifies professional, scientific, and technical jobs as “high-skilled”, whereas retail trade jobs like cashiers as “low skilled”.
Express Entry, Canada’s primary immigration pathway, prioritises highly skilled workers. Although most economic immigrants who arrive in Canada are high-skilled workers, there are pathways for low-skilled workers as well. The Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) are such pathways.
In December, employment rates among the core-age group of immigrants who arrived more than five years ago were nearly 83 percent. Following the achievement of the 2021 target of 401,000 new permanent residents, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration plans to raise the target for next year to 411,000.
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