Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Economists Question New August Job Numbers after Last Month's Botched Effort

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Economists Question New August Job Numbers after Last Month's Botched Effort

Article excerpt

Economists question August job report

--

OTTAWA - Canada's economy unexpectedly shed jobs in August due to heavy losses in the private sector, raising the eyebrows of economists who widely expected a modest gain in Statistics Canada's flagship monthly report.

The national statistical agency reported Friday that the economy lost 11,000 mostly part-time jobs in August, with the unemployment rate remaining unchanged from the previous month at 7.0 per cent. Economists had expected a net gain of about 10,000 jobs.

A whopping loss of 112,000 jobs in the private sector was only partly offset by more people turning to self-employment and the continued delivery of jobs in the public sector.

But some economists, uneasy after Statistics Canada badly botched its July job numbers, raised concerns about the latest figures.

The country's national number-cruncher was forced to issue a major correction to its employment survey last month after wrongly reporting that the economy gained a paltry 200 jobs in July. That number, Canadians found out a week later, was actually supposed to be 42,000. Statistics Canada blamed a computer error.

This time around, some economists were skeptical about the staggering job losses in the private sector and equally surprising gains in the number of self-employed people.

"Guess what? We again advise clients to be very careful with the Canadian jobs numbers," Scotiabank economists Derek Holt and Dov Zigler wrote in a note to clients.

They pointed out there has never been a bigger month-on-month rise in the number of self-employed people, or drop in private-sector jobs, since Statistics Canada started the labour force survey back in 1976. That those record-level monthly gains and losses just happened to almost cancel each other out in the August jobs' report seemed "very fishy" to the Scotiabank economists.

"What an utterly fascinating pair of coincidences," wrote Holt and Zigler.

"A data quality/sampling issue may be in play again here as I just can't believe such volatility in either number."

In response, Statistics Canada said it does not comment "on the opinions or comments made by individuals outside of the agency. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.