StatsCan reports unemployment rate unchanged in December

Following a large increase in November, employment was unchanged in December and the unemployment rate remained at 8.5 per cent. In the last nine months, employment has stabilized but remains 323,000 (-1.9 per cent) below the October 2008 peak.

In December, there were a number of offsetting changes by industry. Employment rose in health care and social assistance, as well as in professional, scientific and technical services. The largest declines were in transportation and warehousing; business, building and other support services; and public administration.

In recent months, a number of industries have contributed to the stabilization in employment. A notable shift has occurred in construction, which had been on a downward trend and is up 30,000 since March.

There was a decrease in public sector employment in December, while the number of self-employed workers was up and the number of private sector employees was unchanged. Since the employment peak of October 2008, the number of self-employed increased. However, the number of people working as employees fell, especially in the private sector, where signs of stabilization have only emerged recently.

In December, employment increased in Alberta, while it declined in Manitoba and New Brunswick. In recent months, employment in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia has been on a slight upward trend.

Employment for women aged 25 to 54 declined by 24,000 in December. These losses were offset by small gains among the other major demographic groups.

Compared with one year ago, average hourly wages rose by 2.4 per cent in December, similar to the year-over-year increase in November but much slower than earlier in 2009.

Click here for more details and tables from Statistics Canada.