OTTAWA — Canada's unemployment rate dipped below 6 percent in September for the first time in 33 years, falling to 5.9 percent, as the economy continued to churn out jobs at an impressive pace.
It's the first time the rate has cracked 6 percent, was November 1974, a time when Neil Young was young and Pierre Trudeau was prime minister.
The decline was due entirely to the economy producing more jobs, with 51,000 more workers finding jobs in September, with all coming in the public sector, particularly in education services and public administration.
So far this year, the economy has created 283,000 new jobs, a rise of 1.7 percent during that period, Statistics Canada reported Friday.
There were more surprises in the September numbers, including that employment among what is called core-age workers — people between 25 and 54 years — rose by 40,000, the first significant gain for this age group since the start of the year.
And manufacturing-rich Ontario, which had been a laggard in job growth most of the year, also joined the job-creation economy last month, producing 30,000 new, full-time jobs. Still, Ontario's jobs growth for the first nine months of this year was 1.2 percent, well below the national average.
The tight labor market is continuing to push wages up, and employees earned 4.2 percent more per hour last month than they did a year earlier — the largest rise in wages since 1997. That means wages were rising at least twice as fast as inflation, which stood at 1.7 percent in August.
Still, factory jobs remained a weak link in the strong jobs story as foreign competition and the high-flying loonie continue to put pressure in the sector. Manufacturing has shed 78,500 during the first nine months of this year, a 3.7 percent decline.
Most of the job gains in September came in educational services, public administration, professional, scientific and technical services, and agriculture.
Employment in education services jumped an estimated 25,000 last month, bringing gains for the past couple of months to 58,000 in the sector and completely washing out the declines of the summer.
As they have for some time, older workers continued to successfully enter the job market, with employment growing by 23,000 last month for those 55 years and older. Employment in this age group of workers has risen by 5.6 percent since the beginning of the year, the fastest acceleration of all age groups.
Alberta remains Canada's best place to find jobs. Employment has increased by 3.4 percent during the first three quarters of the year, and the province's jobless rate now stands at a meager 3.4 percent, the lowest in the country.