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THE LABOUR MARKET IN THE QUÉBEC CITY METROPOLITAN REGION FOR THE FIRST QUARTER 2010

According to the labour force survey (LFS) conducted by Statistics Canada, the Quebec City CMA had 384,900 workers in the first quarter of 2010, down 6,000 from the same period in 2009. The drop was observed among full-time workers (-1,700) as well as part-time workers (-4,300).These job losses brought down the employment rate by 1.7 points, from 63.6% in the first quarter of 2009 to 61.9% in the same period of 2010. In addition, the unemployment rate declined by 0.1 points year-over-year to 5.1%. Although this is one of the lowest levels in Canada, it is primarily attributable to the sharp drop in the labour force participation rate (-1.7%).

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The job market grew at a slower rate in the Quebec City region in the first quarter of 2010 compared with the same period of 2009.Leading companies in the shipping, aerospace, biopharmaceutical, biotech and geospace sectors temporarily or permanently shut down their operations due to continued difficult economic conditions, leading to a number of lay-offs. However, the market's performance in the Quebec City CMA in the first three months of 2010 should be seen in light of the outstanding start to the year in 2009.The main hiring sectors-construction and services-could not maintain that rapid pace. Instead of collapsing, however, they returned to more sustainable employment levels. In addition, there are signs that the manufacturing sector will need new workers in both the durable and non-durable goods sectors.

The LFS also indicates that workers aged 30 and older were those primarily affected by job losses in the first quarter of 2010. Despite these losses, unemployment continued to decline due to a sharp drop in the participation rate in the 30+ age group. The rate was 3.8% in late March 2010-a record first-quarter low for the region. In the 15-29 age group, more people found work in the first quarter, pushing the total (102,900) over the 100,000 mark. This drove down unemployment in this age group to 8.4%.

Performance in the first quarter of 2010 was thus in keeping with our reference scenario. A number of companies will be exercising caution in the first half of the year, and their investments, although substantial, will be primarily aimed at maintaining existing jobs and upgrading facilities. Therefore, the pace of hiring should gradually pick up in the second half of the year. New opportunities will open up for job seekers due to the impact of various major projects (highways, real estate, new contracts granted in the video game industry and fibre-optic investments by Bell, to name but a few examples.

 
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LouisGagnonSenior Economist

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