4 Nov

Canadian Jobs Blew Through Estimates, But Devil Is In the Details


Posted by: Cory Kline

Canadian employment rose 44,000 (+0.2%) in October–much stronger than expected. But all of the gain was because of more part-time work, as full-time employment fell. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.0% as more people joined the labour force. 

Compared to one year ago, the total number of hours worked was little changed and employment rose by 140,000 (+0.8%, mostly in part-time work (+124,000 or +3.6%). This will certainly keep the Bank of Canada from following the US Federal Reserve’s likely rate hike next month. Indeed, we cannot rule out the possibility of a BoC rate cut next year, although Governor Poloz would likely prefer to see fiscal stimulus do the heavy lifting, particularly given the concern about out-sized household debt levels. 

By industry sector, construction employment continued to enjoy gains, mostly in Ontario and Quebec–notably, not in BC. Manufacturing continued weak with payrolls down -0.4% last month and down -1.5% over the past year. Natural resource payrolls were up on the month, but still down a whopping -5.6% year-over-year, dragging down the overall goods producing sector of employment.

Job gains in the service sector were better, although still lacklustre. Leading the way in this sector last month were trade, educational services, and public and other services. 

Regionally, jobs were up in Ontario by 25,000 last month as the jobless rate fell two-tenths to 6.4%. In BC, employment rose by 15,000, but the unemployment rate increased 0.5 percentage points to 6.2% as more people entered the labour force. Nevertheless, BC still boasts the lowest jobless rate among the provinces. Year-over-year, job growth in BC was the strongest in the country at 2.4% (+56,000). Employment declined in Newfoundland and Labrador, taking the jobless rate up to 14.9%–the highest among the provinces (see table below).

Despite the strong headline number for employment growth, this report continues to reveal a Canadian economy that is underperforming. All of the gain was in part-time work, the manufacturing sector remains weak, and there is no indication of more than a modest pace of economic activity this year, in line with this week’s fiscal update.



Provincial Unemployment Rates in October In Descending Order (per cent)
(Previous months in brackets)

   — Newfoundland and Labrador    14.9 (13.6)
   — Prince Edward Island                 11.7 (10.8)
   — New Brunswick                            10.0 (9.3)
   — Alberta                                           8.5 (8.5)
   — Nova Scotia                                   7.6 (8.1)
   — Saskatchewan                               6.9 (6.8)
   — Quebec                                           6.8 (6.9)
   — Ontario                                           6.4 (6.6)
   — Manitoba                                        6.4 (6.4)  
   — British Columbia                           6.2 (5.7)


4 Days From Election and US Jobs Strengthen


Although the headline payrolls gain of 161,000 missed estimates slightly, the jobless rate fell back to 4.9%–the cycle low–and most notably, wage gains accelerated to 2.8% year-over-year, their strongest pace since the financial crisis. The prior two months’ jobs gain was revised upward by 44,000, another piece of good news. Most would argue that despite the continued long-term underemployment of some workers, the US economy is at or near full employment. The strengthening wage growth is an indication of this, and it will boost the Fed’s already-high probability of hiking rates in December.

There remains a challenge to fill highly skilled jobs. Workers have been in short supply for 13 consecutive months, according to the Institute for Supply Management survey of service-industry companies, which make up almost 90% of the US economy. 

On the disappointing side, however, was the fall in the labour force participation rate and the weakness in manufacturing employment. The number of part-time workers and the long-term unemployed remain higher than before the last recession. These disaffected workers are an important component of the Trump base of support. The US underemployment rate dropped to 9.5% in October from 9.7%, while the number of people working involuntarily less than full-time remained unchanged. An estimated 5.89 million American employees were among this group. 

Expect a Fed rate hike in December–the first one this year. The Fed last increased the overnight fed funds rate in December of 2015, and many had expected additional rate hikes this year. These were postponed repeatedly owing to weaker-than-expected GDP growth and low inflation. US inflation has edged up recently and the Fed signaled strongly earlier this week that a rate hike is likely when they meet next month.


Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres

4 Nov

What’s YOUR Number? Your Maximum Mortgage Number


Posted by: Cory Kline

What is the maximum mortgage amount one now qualifies for with the rules that came into effect on October 17th?

Short answer: LESS. A minimum of 20% less, in fact.

Before October 17th, the lenders calculated the maximum mortgage amount based on the contract rate of 2.49%, but now it is based on the Bank of Canada benchmark rate of 4.64%

Here are three random scenarios that I have created to outline borrowers’ qualifying power before and after the change. Note they are all based on  25-year amortization, the new qualifying interest rate (5-year Bank of Canada benchmark, currently 4.64%) as well as a GOOD credit score of 680 or greater. The first two are based on 5% down; the third is based on a 20% down payment, which does not require mortgage insurance.


1 Nov

Market Averages, Government Intervention and Reality


Posted by: Cory Kline

In the Vancouver market, we often hear about the benchmark price, the average price, and the median home price. Usually that of a specific neighbourhood or municipality.

However, what buyers rarely hear is the average price of the bottom 80% of listings of the Greater Vancouver Area. Y’know, the properties that the overwhelming majority of us live in.

A review of this significant market slice is overlooked because it is boring. Boring, because when we skim the ultra high end sales off the top, and look at the lower 80% of properties listed in the Lower Mainland we arrive at an average sale price of ~$597,000. Such a property ($597,000) would today require household income of ~$108,000 using a 5.8% down payment ($34,700) to qualify for purchase.