Analyst: London job growth continues, could bidding war for workers loom? – The London Free Press

The London area’s economy continued to roll ahead in July with a slight drop in the unemployment rate and modest gains in job creation and the labour force.

Just-released Statistics Canada figures show the jobless rate in the London region, which includes St. Thomas, Strathroy and surrounding areas, was 5.4 per cent in July — down a notch from 5.5 per cent in June.

The number of people working increased by 700 and the labour force (everybody working or looking for work) grew by 600.

(File photo)

Compared to a year ago, the local labour force and the number of people employed are both up by about 8,000. The steady growth in the labour force so far this year has reversed a steady decline seen through the latter half of 2017.

The participation rate for the London area (the percentage of adults in the London area either working or looking for jobs) was unchanged at 61.5 per cent and is 0.7 per cent higher than a year ago, but still below the national rate of 65.4 per cent.

London continues to fare better than Kitchener-Waterloo, where the unemployment rate was 5.7 per cent last month, and Windsor, where it was six per cent. But Hamilton is doing better, with a jobless rate of only 4.7 per cent.

Across Canada there was a gain of 54,000 jobs in July, almost all part-time work, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.8 per cent, down from six per cent in July.

Ontario was the big winner with a increase of 61,000 jobs, all part-time. The provincial unemployment rate tumbled from 5.9 per cent to 5.4 per cent — the lowest rate in 18 years.

Compared to a year ago, the number of people employed in Ontario has grown by 183,000.

BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said the national and provincial jobs numbers are not as good as they appear because the gains were in part-time work and mainly in the public sector.

“Today’s job report is a classic case of ‘nice headlines, shame about the details,’” Porter said.

An HCR Personnel Solutions Inc. sign on Wilton Grove Road in London. (Derek Ruttan/The London Free Press)

But Porter said the Canadian economy still continues to grow to the point where some employers face a struggle in hiring.

“It really is an issue for businesses with a lot of turnover such as restaurants and retail,” he said.

He said this is typically the point in the economic cycle where wages start to rise as competition for labour ramps up. But Porter said that trend has not been been strong so far.

Some Southwestern Ontario industries are now posting “we are hiring” signs, including Chapman’s ice cream plant in Markdale, near Owen Sound, which is offering $500 hiring bonuses.

He noted London’s unusually low labour participation rate and said employers face a challenge in getting more people off the sidelines and back into the workforce.

“We are not seeing a lot of bidding wars (for labour) yet but that might come,” he said.

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July 2018 (vs. June)

Canada: 5.8 (6%)

Ontario: 5.4 (5.9%)

London-St. Thomas Unemployment

July: 5.4%

June: 5.5%

May: 5.3%

April: 5.7 %

March: 6.3%

February: 6.7%

January: 6.5%

December: 6.2%

November: 6.1%

October: 6.1%

September: 5.4%

August: 5.4%