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Alexander Chute Economist
Tel: 902-424-5810Email:

February 02, 2018

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a gain of 200,000 positions in non-farm payroll employment for January.  This follows on the revised gain of 160,000 in December.   

Employment gains were seen mainly in construction (+36,000), food services and drinking places (+31,000), health care (+21,000), and manufacturing (+15,000).  Employment in other major industries changed little month over month. 

The US unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 per cent for the fourth consecutive month - persisting below pre-recession levels, and continuing a steady decline since peaking at an annual average of 9.6 per cent in 2010.

Like in the US, Canada's unemployment rates are falling below pre-recession levels.  December's unemployment rates for Canada and Nova Scotia were 5.8 per cent and 8.0 per cent, respectively (Note: January Labour Force Survey data have not been released yet.)


Although the US unemployment rate is reaching historic lows, the participation rate held steady at 62.7 per cent in January, again for the fourth month in a row.  Unlike unemployment rates, the US participation rate has failed to return to pre-recession levels and has only increased modestly since bottoming out in 2015. 

Participation rates in Canada and Nova Scotia also declined in the years after the global financial crises, but have been rising somewhat in recent months.

Although employment levels are rising in the US, the employment to population level remains at 60.1 per cent in January.  

Employment rates in Canada have been trending up over the last 18 months, but are still below levels observed in 2008.  With an aging population and declining labour supply, Nova Scotia's employment rates have trended down since 2012, but there has been some recovery in recent months. 


Note: NS and US labour force statistics refer to different working-age cohorts.

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Statistics Canada CANSIM table 282-0087

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