The Quebec City CMA kicked off the year with a strong showing. In the first quarter, 15,800 jobs were created compared with the same period in 2011. In addition, regional unemployment fell to 5.1% (6.4% last year) thanks to an increase in the number of workers (+3.8%), which offset the increase in the active population (+2.4%). The Quebec City CMA recorded the highest rate of job creation and the lowest unemployment rate in Quebec. It is among the Canadian CMAs having made the greatest contribution to job creation in Canada in the last quarter, along with Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver.
The labour market's strong performance in the Quebec City region in the first few months of the year was primarily attributable to the services sector, where hiring was up sharply. Job creation was somewhat calmer in the construction sector due to the smaller number of new projects underway. We are still waiting to see signs of recovery in the manufacturing sector.
The strong start to the year bodes well for the region, and the spring period may well prolong this situation. The construction projects underway should enter their peak activity phase by late spring, while road projects will gradually pick up, spurring demand for workers. However, job growth in the services sector will have to be monitored. The retail sector will require a little more time before it hits top speed. In addition, layoffs are expected to continue in the public sector, and this trend could be amplified by the recent staff cutbacks announced by the federal government.