By Julian Beltrame, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA – Canada’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest in more than two years as a combination of more self-employed workers and fewer job seekers in May pushed the key economic marker down to 7.4 per cent.
Statistics Canada said 22,300 new jobs were created last month, slightly above consensus estimates following April’s strong 58,000 jobs gain. The last time Canada’s unemployment rate was as low as 7.4 per cent was in January 2009, a few months after the economy had plunged into recession.
The finer details of the May report were less impressive, however.
The jobless rate dropped two-tenths of a point due as much to the fact that 27,500 fewer Canadians were actively looking for work as to the new jobs created.
While all the jobs were full time, they came in the less desirable self-employment category, which could indicate that many Canadians turned to creating their own employment because they were unable to find more traditional work.
“Small business is of vital importance to the Canadian economy, but job creation within this category in a soft spot for the economy (and) is always a knock against the quality of the headline gain,” Derek Holt, vice-president of economics for Scotiabank, said in a note to clients.
The number of employees in Canada actually dropped by 7,500 in May and the goods producing sector of the economy saw a pullback in employment, with manufacturing taking the biggest hit with 22,500 fewer jobs. The month also showed the public sector is starting to tighten, shedding 44,300 jobs as governments begin dealing with large deficits.
The markets treated the report as a status quo finding. The loonie barely budged after the data was released early Friday, although the currency swooned in later trading on dipping oil prices.
Holt noted that hours worked rose just 0.3 per cent and wages were only 2.2 per cent higher than last year, down from 2.6 per cent in March.
“After stripping out inflation, real wages are going nowhere and that remains bearish for consumer spending as households are simply unable to post income growth beyond covering higher fuel and grocery costs in a generalized commodity shock,” he said.
Still, analysts said any job gain following April’s strong advance is good news. It showed April was not a mirage.
“The details in this month’s job growth were not all rosy, but any gains at all were impressive given that they came on the heels of an outsized 58,000 prior-month tally and amidst signs that the economy is decelerating sharply in the second quarter,” said CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld .
Not to be overlooked, he added, is that private sector employers added workers, although a small number.
Another positive for the future, said Jimmy Jean of Desjardins Capital Markets, is that the factory sector is likely to recover once supply chain disruptions from the Japanese natural disaster are resolved.
The summer months will also benefit from an additional $10 million Ottawa is pumping into the summer jobs program to encourage student hiring. Labour Minister Diane Finley says government support will create 36,000 student jobs this summer.
Most economists had predicted a slowdown in job creation not only because they viewed April’s increase as an above-trend anomaly but also because other economic indicators pointed to slowing activity.
Meanwhile, consumer spending and housing have fallen off of late and, earlier in the week, the government reported that the important export sector shrank by 1.1 per cent in volume terms in April.
Despite the softness, Canada’s economy is doing far better than its southern neighbour, which in the same month created only 54,000 jobs, a tiny amount given the size of the U.S. labour force.
In the past year, Canada has more than recouped all the jobs lost during the 2008-2009 recession, creating 273,000 in the last 12 months alone, most full time and in the private sector. Meanwhile, the U.S. remains several million shy of its pre-crisis level and the jobless rate is above nine per cent.
In May, most of Canada’s employment gains came in the retail and wholesale trade industries, and in information, culture and recreation. There were losses in manufacturing and educational services, mostly of those in post-secondary institutions.
Regionally, the lion’s share of job creation came in Quebec, which saw its employment rise by 24,800, while Ontario saw a drop-off of 16,100. http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/Canada-jobless-rate-falls-capress-4119373303.html?x=0
Being all thumbs can mean trouble with texting
By Kate Shellnutt Blame big fingers, tired eyes or other distractions, but odds are you’ve sent a text or tweet to someone accidentally.
It probably wasn’t a photo of your crotch, such as U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner mistakenly tweeted out last week. And it probably wasn’t a text cussing at a fashion icon, as Lady Gaga sent to Vogue editor Anna Wintour, thinking she was responding to another Anna.
Still, it happens to all of us, from text-addicted teenagers to businesspersons on BlackBerry Messenger.
About 40 per cent of texters admit they’ve accidently sent a text to the wrong person, and 10 per cent say they do it once a month, according to research by the makers of TextPlus, a smartphone app.
Accidentally replying to an incoming message or clicking the wrong person on your contact list are common errors.
“I was trying to hit on a girl named Kelly via text one time. My boss’ name is Kelly, and I almost sent it to her. I changed her name to ‘boss’ after that,” said Eric Swenson, a 21-year-old student — via text, of course.
Swenson hasn’t always caught his mistakes, though, and has been left staring at his phone screen at a disparaging message he fired away to the wrong recipient.
“If you recognize it right away, say, ‘Sorry, wrong person,’ ’’ said Drew Olanoff, the “textpert” and community director for TextPlus. “You don’t want them wondering, ‘Was this for me?’ They’ll understand. It happens to everybody.”
Weiner’s highly publicized case, Olanoff said, provided a few examples of what not to do when you make a mistake: lie about it (“I didn’t send it!”) or blame technology (“I was hacked!”).
Though the subject matter of Weiner’s messages was clearly inappropriate, even innocent texts can be problematic when they end up in your co-worker’s or your grandmother’s inbox. Humour sites have made such texts an internet meme, posting thousands of screenshots people have submitted of their uncomfortable exchanges from texting mistakes.
“If everyone just took a moment to re-read what they typed before they hit send, every one of the mistakes on DamnYouAutocorrect.com and WrongNumberTexts.com could be avoided,” said Jillian Madison, who runs the sites and wrote a book with the funniest submissions.
“Of course, it’s easier said than done. Today, we’re all moving fast, talking fast and communicating fast. The downside to that is it leads to mistakes, often with dire consequences.”
Embarrassment isn’t the only result from such mistakes, which have prompted breakups, firings and even arrests. This week, a man from Porter, Texas, mistakenly sent a text message allegedly arranging a drug deal to an officer at a Montgomery County constable’s office.
Americans’ rate of texting is booming, with younger texters sending more messages than ever. According to a recent Nielson Mobile report, teens sent an average of 3,364 a month at the start of 2011. The 18-24 age group sent 1,640 a month.
More texting means more opportunities for mistakes, so Olanoff predicts tech companies will begin to create more safety features for users, such as a “Are you sure you want to send this text?” message or even an option to retract misfired messages.
“There will be more things to ‘save us from ourselves,’ ” Olanoff said.
Five “textpert” tips for avoiding embarrassing mistakes:
Know the technology: Whether it’s email, text messaging, Twitter or another form of communication, be familiar with the basics of how it functions before rushing through messages.
Double check: The easiest way to make sure a text doesn’t go to the wrong person is to check the recipient’s name before you send it.
Don’t list contacts on a first-name-only basis: Write a last name, business or other clues so you know exactly whom you are talking to.
Be judicious with what you text: This one’s for you, Weiners of the world. “If you’re living a lifestyle like that, technology is going to be your worst enemy,” Drew Olanoff of TextPlus said.
Don’t drunk text: No surprise here. Alcohol may be to blame for a number of accidental texting incidents.