StatsCan corrects ‘foul-up’ to reveal 42,000 new jobs — not 200

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Statistics Canada on Friday issued a rare correction for its jobs report last week. The original report had claimed only 200 jobs were created across the country last month.

Statistics Canada’s updated jobs report shows 42,000 new positions were created in July — a far cry from the 200 that were originally reported.

The federal agency released its initial jobs report last Friday before warning Canadians on Tuesday that it had made a mistake.

The updated figures show a large, 60,000-worker spike in the number of part-time jobs. 

The original, erroneous report had claimed there were 60,000 full-time jobs lost. But that was because the data agency’s processing system failed due to human error, the agency said — so “certain respondents that should have been classified as employed were counted as not in the labour force resulting in an overestimation of job losses in full-time employment,” is how the data agency put it.

So the old report had claimed that the part-time gains and full-time losses basically cancelled each other out.

‘In my over two decades of experience in this business, I struggle to think of a comparable foul-up anywhere in the world.’– Scotiabank economists Derek Holt and Dov Ziegler

When the correct numbers were re-reported on Friday, the full-time job losses dropped to 18,100, meaning there were still almost 42,000 net new jobs created, factoring in the part-time gains.

Regionally, most of the new gains were in Ontario and Quebec. The latter had originally posted a loss of jobs, but with the correct data, its workforce actually expanded.  B.C. and Alberta picked up 5,000 and 3,000 new jobs, with the revised numbers.

The job gains were enough to push the national jobless rate down 0.1 percentage points, to seven per cent. 

“The corrected Labour Force Survey looks great compared to last week’s dismal report, but still paints a lacklustre picture of our job market,” United Steelworkers economist Erin Weir said.

TD economist Randall Bartlett shared that pessimism, saying in a note, “July’s jobs gain remains dominated by part-time employment and seasonally sensitive sectors, which call into question the sustainability of the employment pickup going forward.”

Error investigated

Despite the error, which resulted in new employment insurance claims being frozen until the mistake could be fixed, Statistics Canada says it remains confident in the quality of its data.

“I am fully confident in the integrity of the Labour Force Survey program,” chief statistician Wayne Smith said in a statement.

“This was an isolated incident. Statistics Canada does and will continue to publish high-quality and relevant statistical information on all aspects of the Canadian economy and society.”

But that’s not good enough for some on Bay Street who trade billions of dollars worth of investments.

Scotiabank’s economics team didn’t pull any punches, noting, “In my over two decades of experience in this business, I struggle to think of a comparable foul-up anywhere in the world.”

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