(OTTAWA) The Canadian economy added 35,000 jobs in March amid strong population growth, keeping the unemployment rate near record lows.

In its latest labor force survey, Statistics Canada reported Thursday that the unemployment rate stood at 5.0% for the fourth consecutive month.

Job gains were made mainly in the private sector. Employment increased in transportation and warehousing, business, building and other support services, as well as finance, insurance, real estate and rental and rental services. lease.

Meanwhile, jobs have been lost in construction, “other services” and natural resources.

Economist Brendon Bernard, at Indeed, pointed out that the report showed that the labor market is still doing well, “despite a lot of economic uncertainty”.

But Mr Bernard warned that interpreting the employment figures was a bit tricky, as Canada is also seeing its population grow rapidly.

According to Statistics Canada, the population increased by 0.3% last month, while employment increased by 0.2%.

“The report may not be as strong as the numbers might suggest,” Bernard said. But at the same time, this 5.0% unemployment rate highlights the bigger picture, which is that the job market remains strong. »

While employers maintained their appetite for hiring, wages continued to rise in March. The average hourly wage increased by 5.3% on an annual basis.

The Canadian labor market has been tight for months, despite high interest rates increasing the cost of borrowing for individuals and businesses.

March was the fourth month in a row to show an unemployment rate of 5.0% near record lows.

According to the Statistics Canada report, the unemployed were less likely to be out of work for a long time. The percentage of those unemployed in March who had been out of work for 27 weeks or more was 16.0%, down from 20.3% a year earlier.

However, labor market tensions are not expected to last forever. The Bank of Canada’s aggressive interest rate hikes since March 2022 are expected to weigh on the economy and many economists predict a significant slowdown this year.

Recent surveys, released earlier this week by the central bank, showed that consumers and businesses were bracing for this downturn. Consumers said they plan to cut spending, while businesses expect sales to slow.

This decline should have repercussions on the labor market and lead to an increase in unemployment.

And while companies continued to flag labor shortages as a major concern, surveys showed there were signs the labor market was easing.

In Quebec, employment remained stable last month, with some 1,600 jobs lost, and the unemployment rate jumped 0.1 points to 4.2%.

In the Maritimes, the unemployment rate remained stable in Nova Scotia at 5.7%, while it fell in the other provinces, from 6.3% to 5.8% in New Brunswick and from 7.3% to 6.6% in Prince Edward Island.