Macklem Sees Higher Canada Jobless Rate as Labor Market Balances

Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem reiterated that the country’s economy is headed for a soft landing, saying he expects the unemployment rate to rise but that a large increase isn’t needed to achieve the inflation target.

Bloomberg
First Published24 Jun 2024, 11:17 PM IST
Macklem Sees Higher Canada Jobless Rate as Labor Market Balances
Macklem Sees Higher Canada Jobless Rate as Labor Market Balances

Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem reiterated that the country’s economy is headed for a soft landing, saying he expects the unemployment rate to rise but that a large increase isn’t needed to achieve the inflation target.

On Monday, Macklem said Canada’s unemployment rate — which hit 6.2% in May — was “just above” pre-pandemic levels, when the labor market was close to “maximum sustainable employment” — the highest level of jobs an economy can have without stoking inflation.

“We continue to think that we don’t need a large rise in the unemployment rate to get inflation back to the 2% target,” Macklem said in prepared text of a speech he’s delivering in Winnipeg.

Canada’s labor market has loosened and is “closer to being in balance,” he said. It’s harder to find a new job, which is particularly affecting young workers and newcomers who are facing unemployment rates that are rising faster than those of other Canadians, he added.

The speech suggests the Bank of Canada is increasingly confident that the country’s labor market has loosened sufficiently to allow a further cooling in inflation, even as the economy continues to grow and add jobs. Policymakers have said it’s reasonable to expect further interest rate cuts if price pressures continue to ease.

Macklem said that while the bank sees sticky wage growth above pre-pandemic levels, the rebalancing of the labor market and lower inflation is starting to moderate compensation pressures.

“Wages tend to lag adjustments in employment,” Macklem said. “Going forward, we will be looking for wage growth to moderate further.”

Faster growth in the unemployment rates of newcomers means Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal government “has some room” to slow the growth of non-permanent residents without causing labor shortages or tightening the labor market, he said.

He also acknowledged that recent immigrants and young people are also most likely to be renters — a group the bank said is facing more household financial stress.

Macklem also said that the labor market “overheated” after what the bank called “exceptional” fiscal and monetary policy responses. That drove up job vacancies, a big reason the federal government ramped up the number of newcomers brought into the country.

The number of job vacancies is now falling, a trend the bank expects to continue. That will accompany further increases in the unemployment rate, according to policymakers’ analysis of the Beveridge curve.

In the long run, Macklem said Canada needs to “keep investing” in an inclusive labor market, “smart immigration” and a “strong and accessible education system” in order to tackle the country’s productivity problem.

In June, the Bank of Canada was the first Group of Seven central bank to start cutting interest rates, lowering its policy rate to 4.75%. The bank next sets rates on July 24.

Macklem will shed more light on his comments during a press conference scheduled for 3 p.m. Ottawa time.

With assistance from Jay Zhao-Murray.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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First Published:24 Jun 2024, 11:17 PM IST
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