For the province of Quebec, the labour market had 50,000 fewer jobs in February 2012 compared with the same period in 2011. The January to February period was no help in this regard, with 4,400 jobs lost. Unemployment stood at 8.5% in February, the highest rate since October 2009.
The Quebec City CMA is maintaining a historically high number of jobs. In February 2012, it was home to 424,100 workers, or 8,800 more than in the same period of 2011. During the period, hiring increased primarily in the services sector, most notably financial, insurance, administrative and educational services.
The fine showing of the labour market in the Quebec City region is helping to keep the unemployment rate at close to 5% (5.1% in February). Quebec City's dynamic economy is also having a positive impact on the confidence of workers and job seekers. In this regard, the workforce participation rate was 69.8% in February, reducing the gap between the rates recorded in Western Canada, which usually vary from 70% to 75%.
It will be interesting to track the jobs numbers in the coming months in Quebec City. Although we anticipate that the first half of the year will be somewhat calm in terms of hiring, the monthly gain of 1,200 workers in February indicates that the search for qualified workers will continue despite the still uncertain global economic context. New and continuing major projects, combined with the need for qualified workers in the services sector, may well put upward pressure on hiring, particularly beginning in the early summer.