Employment growth continues across Canada, mixed in PA

RBC was among banks that confirmed it was moving up its rate hike forecast

The central bank raised its benchmark interest rate for the first time in seven years in July and then again in September, putting it at 1 per cent. Money markets expect three further rate hikes this year.

"The unemployment rate is now at its lowest in 40 years thanks to a 5 tenth drop in the youth unemployment rate".

In November, the unemployment rate was 5.3 per cent with 49,800 working and 2,800 looking for work. Stats Can released last month's employment numbers today and 55,000 Canadians re-entered the workforce last month, though much of that growth was from more part-time work opportunities. Our region is even lower with just 6 per cent unemployment for the area that includes Banff, Jasper, Rocky Mountain House, Athabasca, Grande Prairie and Peace River.

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That brought Canada's unemployment rate to 5.7 per cent in December, down from 5.9 per cent the month before, to reach its lowest mark since comparable data became available in 1976. "If that report flags tightening capacity and broadening labour shortages, the Bank may not wait until March to raise rates". Economist Robert Kavcic said in a research note the Bank of Canada may move this month if a survey of executives the central bank publishes on Monday also shows strength. Job gains in the natural resource sector, up 4.6 per cent, followed "heavy losses" in 2015 and 2016, Stats Canada said. Job gains were observed among self-employed workers and public sector employees.

"Canadian employment continued to defy gravity, adding almost 80 thousand jobs for a second consecutive month in December - the best back-to-back gains in five years", writes RBC economist Josh Nye in a note released today.

In a separate report Friday, Statistics Canada says the country's merchandise trade deficit widened to $2.5 billion in November, compared to a $1.6-billion deficit the month before, as imports outgrew exports.

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