By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
Despite concerns over the increase of minimum wage, employment in Ontario was up in 2018.
According to the year-end labour market summary provided by Statistics Canada, employment was up by approximately 77,500 jobs in 2018, representing an increase of 1.1 per cent.
In all, the province saw roughly 88,100 new full-time jobs last year, but part-time jobs declined by 10,600 over the previous year.
However, that trend was reversed in January.
Ontario saw a net creation of 17,600 new jobs in December but full-time employment was down by 11,600, or 0.2 per cent.
The province’s unemployment rate was down to 5.4 per cent, the second lowest in the country only to British Columbia.
The greatest job gains were recorded in industries such as transportation, warehousing, and educational services.
Declines were seen in wholesale and retail trade as well as information, culture, and recreation.
Across Canada, full-time employment increased by 185,000, while part-time employment remained constant.
At the beginning of January, the country’s unemployment rate of 5.6 per cent was the lowest since comparable data became available in 1976.
Minimum wage increased by $2.40 to $14 an hour in January 2018, an action some business advocacy groups believed could have a significant negative impact on Ontario’s economy.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce predicted the pay jump could result in the loss of up to 185,000 jobs across the province.
Another minimum wage hike to $15/hr under Liberal legislation for 2019 was nixed by the current PC government last fall.
The province’s minimum wage is frozen until the fall of 2020 when it will increase in accordance to the rate of inflation.
In a government news release, Todd Smith, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, said December’s numbers were a result of government policies to “make it easier for business to thrive and create good jobs.
“Our government is creating an environment where businesses can thrive, grow and create good jobs — and where the people of Ontario can build their careers and support their families,” Smith said. “We remain committed to working with job creators to ensure a stable and competitive business environment that protects workers, and creates jobs, opportunity, and growth.”