Job growth decelerated in October: StatCan

Canada’s economy sputtered last month with only 83,600 new jobs created—significantly below the 378,000 unique jobs generated in September—but the number of people who work from home grew by 150,000 in October, according to a report from Statistics Canada.

The country’s unemployment rate was mostly sideways at 8.9% last month, however, it dropped from 13.7% in May. Although there were 540,000 Canadians searching for work in October, another trend has buoyed the real estate market: the total number of remote workers rose to 2.4 million in October.

“One reason housing has been so strong is because many people are working from home and they’re fully employed,” said Dr. Sherry Cooper, chief economist of Dominion Lending Centres. “They’ve reassessed what their housing needs are, so there’s a lot of pent up demand in the housing market.”

Employment gains in Alberta and British Columbia increased by a combined 57,000 in October—the former’s unemployment rate declined from 11.7% in September to 10.7% a month later, and the latter’s fell from 8.4% to 8%—but the overarching variable is how the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, or devolves, and how what kind of lockdown measures might ensue.

While the Canadian economy is far from propitious, it isn’t languishing, added Cooper.

“It’s somewhere in between,” she said. “We’re still recovering, but there have been setbacks. Just as the Bank of Canada suggested that it’s going to be a long and bumpy recovery, the surge of new infections and subsequent increase in restrictions in a number of different cities has certainly hurt the economy.”

Montreal recently elevated, then extended, its lockdown measures to red alert, but its metropolitan area still saw sales activity spike by 37% in October, marking an historic high, according to the latest data from the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers.

Similarly, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reported a 29% increase in sales last month, reaching 3,687 transactions from 2,858 in October 2019, and a 1.2% rise from 3,463 transactions in September.

Home sales also surged by 25.1% in the Greater Toronto Area in October—the fourth straight month of year-over-year increases—according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.

Canada’s three largest real estate markets don’t appear hampered by the pandemic. If anything, historically low interest rates have buoyed market activity, and with record numbers of immigrants Canada-bound over the next three years, housing demand should remain robust.

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