Expect job market moderation in the months ahead, internal memo tells Morneau


OTTAWA — An internal federal analysis is forecasting job market moderation on the horizon following Canada’s extended period of healthy employment growth.

The assessment prepared last spring for Finance Minister Bill Morneau is predicting that job creation will fade over the near term for a number of reasons — the economy has been running at full capacity, the unemployment rate has bottomed out near a four-decade low and the aging population is applying downward pressure.

The memo notes that the labour market lost a combined 72,600 positions in the first two months of the year in what Finance officials suggest could mark a turning point after a strong 2017 streak that produced 425,000 jobs, which were mostly full time.

Morneau was also informed that despite the job market’s performance, it has signs of weakness — including unexpectedly modest wage growth, a lethargic rebound in Alberta since the 2014 oil-price collapse and a higher-than-anticipated share of unemployed people who have been looking for work for at least six months.

The Canadian Press obtained the document under the Access to Information Act.

Whether or not criticism is warranted, the federal Liberal government can expect political foes to focus on incoming batches of weaker jobs numbers as they ready their attacks in the lead-up to next year’s election.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, for instance, has already accused the Trudeau government of squandering the booming economy that he argues the Liberals inherited in 2015 from the Tories.

The Canadian Press