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Quebec and Ontario Economic News

Quebec Added 19,000 Jobs in April, Wiping Out March Declines

May 10, 2024
Florence Jean-Jacobs
Principal Economist


  • After posting a substantial loss of 18,000 jobs in March, Quebec created a roughly equivalent number of new jobs in April (+19,200).
  • The gains were mostly in part-time employment (+19,700), while full-time employment stalled (table).
  • The number of unemployed people rose for the third month in a row (+7,500), pushing the unemployment rate up from 5% in March to 5.1% in April.
  • After posting net declines in March, changes in employment turned positive again in the private sector and for self-employed workers. 


The biggest job gains were in health care and social services (+15,000), business services (+8,500) and wholesale and retail trade (+8,500). In contrast, employment in the goods-producing sector flatlined. For the first four months of the year, two sectors posted sharper declines compared to the same period in 2023. These were manufacturing (-12,700) and the information and culture industries (-19,300)

It's worth pointing out that the number of hours worked jumped 6.3% from last year (graph). This appears to have been mostly driven by the health care sector, but construction, professional services, and wholesale and retail trade also picked up. In addition, wage growth levelled off (annual growth of 4.4%) after climbing 4.6% in March. This is still higher than the inflation rate (3.6% in Quebec in March).


Monthly changes in employment often swing back and forth. Just one month isn't enough to establish a trend, especially if the previous month's numbers moved in the opposite direction.

We can nevertheless draw some conclusions from today's print. First, at 2.2% year-on-year, demographic growth continues to outpace employment growth (0.6%). This trend, which started last June, suggests the labour market is softening. Second, the contribution of the public sector, especially health care, is significant. It will probably take a few more months for the recovery to firm up in the private sector (see our latest forecasts). Third, the uptick in hours worked looks promising and seems to be in line with improvements in other indicators (see the Desjardins Leading Index). Finally, the unemployment rate is still relatively low, as apparently businesses would rather reduce job postings than lay off employees, especially when there's a shortage of skilled and specialized workers in many sectors.


NOTE TO READERS: The letters k, M and B are used in texts, graphs and tables to refer to thousands, millions and billions respectively. IMPORTANT: This document is based on public information and may under no circumstances be used or construed as a commitment by Desjardins Group. While the information provided has been determined on the basis of data obtained from sources that are deemed to be reliable, Desjardins Group in no way warrants that the information is accurate or complete. The document is provided solely for information purposes and does not constitute an offer or solicitation for purchase or sale. Desjardins Group takes no responsibility for the consequences of any decision whatsoever made on the basis of the data contained herein and does not hereby undertake to provide any advice, notably in the area of investment services. Data on prices and margins is provided for information purposes and may be modified at any time based on such factors as market conditions. The past performances and projections expressed herein are no guarantee of future performance. Unless otherwise indicated, the opinions and forecasts contained herein are those of the document’s authors and do not represent the opinions of any other person or the official position of Desjardins Group.