Alberta’s unemployment rate climbs to 6.8% to start 2019

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Although more people are working past 65 than they once did, the majority of seniors do leave the workforce.

Most of the jobs were in the private sector, which recorded the biggest month-to-month increase since the agency started collecting the data point in 1976.

"Definitely the headline job gain was very impressive", said BMO chief economist Douglas Porter.

In the Edmonton census metropolitan area, the unemployment rate rose from 6.3 per cent in December to 6.4 per cent in January.

That increase - 16,000 workers - was driven by younger people, Statistics Canada said.

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Even with the improvement, the January number remained just under the inflation level, which suggests Canadians' salaries could have a tough time keeping up with rising prices for consumer goods.

The Bank of Canada has been monitoring wage growth ahead of its interest-rate decisions as it tries to determine how well indebted households can absorb higher borrowing costs.

Provincially, unemployment climbed to 6.8 per cent from 6.4 per cent in December 2018.

The jobless rate, in Canada, for men 25 years of age or older was 5.2%.

One way to look at it, if the participation rate last month had been 73.3 per cent as it was in October 2008 the capital region's workforce - 779,000 in January - would have been larger by some 70,000.

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Capital Economics also thinks the surprising job gains won't change the Bank of Canada's mind. The central bank stayed on the sidelines last month after five hikes since July 2017, and most analysts expect no action.

Total hours worked are up 1.2 per cent over the same period, according to StatsCan, compared to 0.9 per cent in December.

Part-time job gains outpaced full-time, 36,000 positions versus 30,900, respectively, and youth aged 15 to 24 led employment growth, adding 52,800 jobs.

Year-over-year, the unemployment rate is up from January 2018 when it sat at 3.8%, and when 37,700 people were reported to be employed in a labour force of 39,200.

"Wages continued to rise in January, with B.C. among the top provinces for year-over-year growth".

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