The Quebec City metropolitan region kicked off 2017 with a gain of 2,100 jobs in the first quarter. This strong showing marked the fourth quarter in a row with positive employment growth. We would have to go back to 2010 to find such a long job creation streak. In addition, the region continues to lead the pack with one of Canada's lowest unemployment rates: 4.1% in the first quarter, equalling the rate observed in the second quarter of 2016.
The strong start to the year stemmed primarily from services and manufacturing. The construction industry remains quite calm in terms of hiring, although the arrival of spring should bring good news for jobseekers, particularly in the non-residential and road construction sectors. In addition, the first-quarter data appear to confirm employment gains among young people aged 15 to 24 and among workers aged 55 and up (in 2016, job losses were noted in both of these categories).
The strong start to the year bodes well for the region as a whole; indeed, this trend may well intensify throughout the spring. However, we should bear in mind that the number of jobs is growing slightly more quickly than the labour force is, which could raise issues of worker availability. Ensuring access to qualified workers for specialized and non-specialized jobs alike will continue to be a focus of attention in Quebec City in 2017, and the low unemployment rate serves to remind us of that reality.