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Canadian economy adds 953000 jobs in June, unemployment rate falls – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Nearly one million more Canadians had jobs in June, Statistics Canada says, as businesses forced to close by the pandemic began to reopen and the country continued to recoup steep losses over March and April.

Statistics Canada’s labour force survey released Friday showed 953,000 jobs were added last month, including 488,000 full-time and 465,000 part-time positions. The unemployment rate fell to 12.3 per cent after hitting a record-high of 13.7 per cent in May.

As in May, even though more people found jobs, more people also looked for work as the labour force grew by about 786,000 after a gain of 491,000 in May, bringing it to within 443,000 of its pre-pandemic level.

Statistics Canada said the unemployment rate would have been 16.3 per cent had it included in unemployment counts those who wanted to work, but did not look for a job.

Job gains were made in every province, including by 378,000 in Ontario, marking the first increase since the COVID-19 shutdown, Statistics Canada said. It didn’t include any gains in Toronto as restrictions in that city loosened after the survey week.

Despite the good news, economist Jim Stanford said there remains a historic crisis in the job market with high unemployment and hundreds of thousands who have left the labour force altogether.

Also, gains nationally were not shared equally among groups, with women, youth and low-wage workers still slower to rebound, which Stanford said could be problematic if those jobs don’t ever come back.

“I worry about a coming second round of layoffs motivated not by health restrictions, but by companies deciding their businesses are going to be permanently smaller. So that would be qualitatively different and in a way worse,” said Stanford, director of the Centre for Future Work in Vancouver.

“We aren’t remotely out of the woods yet, but this was a really encouraging step forward.”

Some three million jobs were lost over March and April due to the pandemic, and 2.5 million more had their hours and earnings slashed. By last month, some 3.1 million were affected by the pandemic, including 1.4 million who weren’t at work due to COVID-19.

Brendon Bernard, an economist at Indeed Canada, said recapturing jobs at the same pace in the coming months will be tougher.

“A lot of areas of the economy still aren’t running at full capacity,” Bernard said. “So while doors may be open and customers might be coming in, business hasn’t come back to normal.”

Despite the overall improvement, the oil and gas industry continues to struggle.

The PetroLMI Division of Energy Safety Canada says direct oil and gas employment fell by more than 6,700 positions in June compared with May, with about 70 per cent of the net job losses in Alberta.

Compared with a year earlier, employment in the oil and employment sector was down 17 per cent.

The overall job losses were unprecedented in speed and depth compared with previous recessions, Statistics Canada said, and the rebound to date sharper than previous downturns.

Ottawa’s response has been equally unprecedented: a deficit of at least $343.2 billion this fiscal year as the Trudeau Liberals dole out some $230 billion in emergency aid.

In June, 28.3 per cent of Canadians aged 15 to 69 reported receiving some form of federal aid since mid-March, Statistics Canada said. Meanwhile, the proportion of households reporting difficulty paying the bills dropped to 20.1 per cent in June from 22.5 per cent in May.

“Without the federal government being there to support Canadian workers, Canadian businesses and the Canadian provinces and territories, we would be in a bigger mess in this country right now,” Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress said in an interview this week.

The Bank of Canada and federal government believe the worst of the economic pain from the pandemic is behind the country, but Canada will face high unemployment and low growth until 2021.

In a statement, federal Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough touted the overall jobs numbers as a sign the government’s plan was working, before adding many Canadians still “face real challenges during this time.”

She and other ministers are now reshaping programs so fewer workers stay on the $80-billion emergency benefit, and more get tied to jobs through the $82-billion wage subsidy program.

“We understand the need for those emergency programs. We also understand as we reopen and recover, we have to move away from emergency programs and into stimulus and recovery,” said Leah Nord, senior director of workforce strategies for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

She said there are other issues to resolve around health and safety in the workplace, transit, and child care to help more Canadians get back to work.

In provinces where daycares reopened for children five and under, employment levels returned to pre-pandemic levels for fathers in June, but not for mothers. Similarly, mothers with children under 18 were more likely than fathers to work less than half their usual hours in June, Statistics Canada said.

Job gains have come at a faster clip for men. Their unemployment rate hit 12.1 per cent in June compared to 12.7 per cent for women. And the underutilization rate — which counts those who are unemployed, those who want a job but didn’t look for one, and those working less than half their usual hours — was 28.3 for women and 25.5 per cent for men.

Economist Armine Yalnizyan said the numbers underscore the need to provide child care as well as options for schooling in the fall so mothers can work.

The alternative, she said, could pull back any economic gains.

“It means that even if there are jobs, some women won’t be able to take them because there’s no way they can leave their kids,” said Yalnizyan, a fellow on the future of workers at the Atkinson Foundation.

“So we are looking at the potential for an economic depression instead of talking about paces of recovery and pivoting to building to better.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020.

Here’s a quick look at Canada’s June employment (numbers from the previous month in brackets):

  • Unemployment rate: 12.3 per cent (13.7)
  • Employment rate: 56.0 per cent (52.9)
  • Participation rate: 63.8 per cent (61.4)
  • Number unemployed: 2,452,600 (2,619,200)
  • Number working: 17,427,400 (16,474,500)
  • Youth (15-24 years) unemployment rate: 27.5 per cent (29.4)
  • Men (25 plus) unemployment rate: 9.5 per cent (11.1)
  • Women (25 plus) unemployment rate: 10.4 per cent (11.8)

Here are the jobless rates last month by province (numbers from the previous month in brackets):

  • Newfoundland and Labrador 16.5 per cent (16.3)
  • Prince Edward Island 15.2 per cent (13.9)
  • Nova Scotia 13.0 per cent (13.6)
  • New Brunswick 9.9 per cent (12.8)
  • Quebec 10.7 per cent (13.7)
  • Ontario 12.2 per cent (13.6)
  • Manitoba 10.1 per cent (11.2)
  • Saskatchewan 11.6 per cent (12.5)
  • Alberta 15.5 per cent (15.5)
  • British Columbia 13.0 per cent (13.4)

Statistics Canada also released seasonally adjusted, three-month moving average unemployment rates for major cities. It cautions, however, that the figures may fluctuate widely because they are based on small statistical samples. Here are the jobless rates last month by city (numbers from the previous month in brackets):

  • St. John’s, N.L. 11.6 per cent (10.5)
  • Halifax 11.9 per cent (10.5)
  • Moncton, N.B. 9.1 per cent (8.8)
  • Saint John, N.B. 11.5 per cent (11.1)
  • Saguenay, Que. 12.9 per cent (13.3)
  • Quebec City 11.9 per cent (11.9)
  • Sherbrooke, Que. 11.6 per cent (10.9)
  • Trois-Rivieres, Que. 12.6 per cent (13.0)
  • Montreal 15.1 per cent (14.0)
  • Gatineau, Que. 11.0 per cent (11.0)
  • Ottawa 9.0 per cent (7.7)
  • Kingston, Ont. 12.4 per cent (10.8)
  • Peterborough, Ont. 9.5 per cent (9.5)
  • Oshawa, Ont. 11.8 per cent (10.1)
  • Toronto 13.6 per cent (11.2)
  • Hamilton, Ont. 12.1 per cent (10.3)
  • St. Catharines-Niagara, Ont. 12.9 per cent (12.6)
  • Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Ont. 12.2 per cent (10.3)
  • Brantford, Ont. 12.6 per cent (11.3)
  • Guelph, Ont. 14.9 per cent (12.9)
  • London, Ont. 12.6 per cent (11.7)
  • Windsor, Ont. 15.2 per cent (16.7)
  • Barrie, Ont. 10.8 per cent (11.6)
  • Greater Sudbury, Ont. 9.4 per cent (8.4)
  • Thunder Bay, Ont. 11.1 per cent (10.4)
  • Winnipeg 11.7 per cent (10.3)
  • Regina 11.6 per cent (10.6)
  • Saskatoon 14.1 per cent (12.4)
  • Calgary 15.6 per cent (13.4)
  • Edmonton 15.7 per cent (13.6)
  • Kelowna, B.C. 10.2 per cent (9.6)
  • Abbotsford-Mission, B.C. 8.8 per cent (7.5)
  • Vancouver 13.1 per cent (10.7)
  • Victoria 11.0 per cent (10.1)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020.

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Tesla seeks entry into U.S. renewable fuel credit market

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Tesla Inc is seeking to enter the multi-billion dollar U.S. renewable credit market, hoping to profit from the Biden administration’s march toward new zero-emission goals, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The electric car maker is one of at least eight companies with a pending application at the Environmental Protection Agency tied to power generation and renewable credits, the sources said. The EPA produces a list of pending applications with some details, but not companies’ names.

Tesla’s entry could potentially reshape the renewable credit market, established in the mid-2000s to boost investment in the U.S. biofuel industry. The market generated some 18 billion credits in 2020 and is currently dominated by ethanol producers. Tesla’s application would likely be tied to the production of electricity associated with biogas.

The Biden administration is expected to review the EPA applications and lay out how electric vehicles could qualify for tradable credits under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) this summer, the two sources said.

The move could represent the largest expansion of the RFS program that was created by President George W. Bush and aimed at boosting rural America and weaning the country off oil imports.

The entry of Tesla and other electric vehicle makers to the renewable energy scheme could attract investment for a much-needed infrastructure network, including charging stations, for electric vehicles.

However, it is likely to anger some in the U.S. refining industry who would need to buy the credits, known as RINs, generated by Tesla and other alternative fuel providers, essentially subsidizing an electric car company that seeks to put petrochemical refiners out of business.

Rural farmers could view Tesla’s entry as the Biden White House prioritizing electric vehicles over biofuels as an answer to the climate crisis.

BIOGAS LOGISTICS

In 2016, just before the Obama administration exited office, the EPA published a proposal seeking comment on how best to structure credits for renewable electricity that is used as a transportation fuel.

The proposal largely sat dormant during the Trump administration, which spent most of its time on fuel credits trying to find common ground among rivals in the corn and oil industries.

Electricity from biogas – mainly pulled from the nation’s landfills – is already eligible for generating credits under the RFS program, but the EPA has never approved applications to do so because the agency hasn’t yet figured out the logistical issues.

Key questions include how to trace the credit-eligible biogas from its origin through to a car’s battery, and who along that supply chain should be allowed to claim the lucrative credits.

Under the RFS, refiners must blend biofuels like corn-based ethanol into their fuel pool or purchase compliance credits in a credit market, where prices have swung wildly in recent years.

The program has helped drive investment in ethanol plants in states like Iowa and Nebraska, but liquid fuels have been under attack from the Biden administration.

Tesla would generate the most lucrative type of credits, known as D3s, which trade at a significant premium to the larger pool of traditional ethanol credits.

As well as building electric cars, Tesla is also investing in charging stations and large-scale batteries.

 

(Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw and Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Heather Timmons and Richard Pullin)

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Fed privately presses big banks on risks from climate change

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The U.S. Federal Reserve has asked lenders to start providing information on the measures they are taking to mitigate climate change-related risks to their balance sheets, according to four people with knowledge of the matter.

The previously unreported supervisory discussions highlight how U.S. watchdogs are moving to execute President Joe Biden’s agenda to incorporate climate risk into the financial regulatory system, with potentially major ramifications for Wall Street.

While European regulators are this year rolling-out climate-change “stress tests” for lenders, the Fed lags its peers.

Fed officials have previously said they are considering a new scenario analysis to help them understand how climate change may affect trillions of dollars’ worth of bank assets, but have not said how or when they would start to apply such tests.

In private discussions, however, Fed supervisors have begun pressing large lenders to detail the measures they are taking to understand how their loan books would perform under certain climate change scenarios, the four people said.

Fed officials have not dictated the parameters for the analysis but have made it clear they expect lenders to conduct the internal risk-management exercises and hand over the data, the people said.

That analysis includes testing the geographical exposure of bank assets to physical risks such as flooding, drought and wildfires, as well as testing exposures to different sectors, such as how oil and gas loans may perform versus renewable energy loans.

The aim of the tests is to identify risks, but the Fed has not indicated that the data it is gathering would translate into any additional capital charges or other regulatory actions.

“They’re being very pragmatic. They’re doing their homework,” said one of the people.

Global banks — including JPMorgan, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley — have been exploring the implications of climate change for some time, both internally and in some cases with European regulators like the Bank of England who are more aggressively integrating climate change risks into the regulatory framework.

Nevertheless, the new climate scrutiny from the U.S. central bank adds to the pressure on Wall Street lenders, forcing them to make investments in technology, data management and staff.

“The data work is a big deal,” said another of the sources.

The banks did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the private discussions with the Fed.

STRESS TESTS

Climate change could upend the financial system because physical threats such as rising sea levels, as well as policies and carbon-neutral technologies aimed at slowing global warming, could destroy trillions of dollars of assets, risk experts say.

In a 2020 report, a Commodity Futures Trading Commission panel cited data estimating that $1 trillion to $4 trillion of global wealth tied to fossil fuel assets could be lost.

The Fed in January appointed Kevin Stiroh, one of its top supervisors, to lead a new team focusing on climate-related financial risks, but some congressional Democrats are pushing the central bank to move much faster and add climate risks to bank stress tests which dictate Wall Street’s capital plans.

In March, Fed governor Lael Brainard said that climate scenario tests could be helpful but that they would also rely on qualitative judgments and be highly uncertain.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell has said the agency will tread carefully and focus on incorporating climate change into existing regulatory obligations, as opposed to creating strict new rules. It is unclear, though, if he will be renominated to lead the Fed after his term expires next year, while his vice chair Randal Quarles, a Republican appointee who oversees bank regulation, is expected to leave this year.

Progressive groups say there is much more the central bank could do to address climate risks, even if it does not want to go as far as its European counterparts.

Tim Clark, a former senior Fed official who helped build its stress tests after the 2008 financial crisis, said it should publicly communicate that it expects banks to incorporate climate change into their risk management processes.

“That’s something they can basically start right now and make it clear to the industry that they expect banks to be working hard on this.”

 

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Michelle Price and Lisa Shumaker)

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Cuban tanker en route to Venezuela reports missing sailor at sea

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A crew member aboard a Cuba-flagged oil tanker on its way from a Mexican shipyard to Venezuela was reported missing this week, according to a shipping report seen by Reuters, marking the second incident aboard the same vessel in about a year.

Sailor Rafael Desiderio Martinez Alonso was not found last Sunday by the doctor onboard oil tanker Petion, which set sail on May 6 from Mexico’s port of Veracruz bound for the Cardon terminal in Venezuela’s western coast.

The report by the tanker’s shipping agency to Venezuelan port authorities about the incident said Martinez Alonso, who was one the tanker’s fitters, is believed to have fallen into open waters because his shoes were found near the ship’s gas plant. He has not officially been reported dead.

The tanker’s general alarm was activated the same day to start search and rescue operations, but after 24 hours the sailor was not found, said the report, which is dated May 11.

The report did not identify Martinez Alonso’s nationality. Cuba-flagged vessels frequently use all-Cuban crews.

Venezuela’s oil ministry and Cuba’s foreign ministry did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

The Petion made a stop on Monday for about 18 hours near the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, changing its status from “underway using engine” to “not under command.”

It continued its voyage to Venezuela on Tuesday, according to Refinitiv Eikon tanker monitoring data.

The same ship last year reported the death of a Cuban sailor while anchored near Venezuela’s Amuay port, after the helmsman fell overboard, according to people familiar with the accident.

Both the Petion and its managing firm, Cyprus-registered Caroil Transport Marine Ltd, were hit with U.S. sanctions in 2019 for transporting Venezuelan oil to Cuba. The vessel was serviced in Mexico between March and May.

Caroil could not be reached for comment.

A separate tanker, the Cameroon-flagged Domani, arrived in Venezuelan waters in March with a dead crew member onboard, according to two sources with knowledge of the incident. The death was reported as a suicide before Venezuelan authorities.

 

(Reporting by Mircely Guanipa in Maracay, Venezuela, and Marianna Parraga in Mexico City. Additional reporting by Sarah Marsh in Havana; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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