OTTAWA - Canada's unemployment rate inched down to 7.2 per cent last month as employers added 7,300 net new jobs, with Ontario the only province showing any significant gains, Statistics Canada reported Friday.
That number of new jobs usually isn't enough to reduce the national unemployment rate — it had been 7.3 per cent in May — but June also saw a 16,600 drop in the number of active workers which reduced the overall size of the labour force, Statistics Canada explained.
It was the second month in a row that Canada saw minimal job gains after two stunning months — March and April — when the economy added 140,000 jobs.
Ontario was the exception last month. Canada's biggest province added 20,200 new jobs in June, all full-time.
Prior to the release Friday morning, economists had predicted a tight job market in June given the deteriorating global outlook and deepening debt and financial crisis in Europe.
Recent confidence surveys have all pointed to weakening conditions and minimal hiring as businesses attempt to ride out the weak outlook.
While June constituted another soft month for most workers, it was especially dour on the summer job front.
Employment as a percentage of their population among students aged 20-24 fell sharply to 63.2 per cent from 67.4 per cent in June 2011, matching the situation in 2009, when student employment was hit hard by the recession.
"(It) is also the lowest June employment rate since comparable data became available in 1977," the agency said.
Similarly, the employment rate among 17-19 year old students also fell, to 51.4 per cent, lower than existed in June 2009.
There were some bright spots in the report, if few. Full-time employment rose by 29,300, offset by a 22,000 decline in part-time work. And the number of employees rose by 12,800 as self-employment dropped.
Most of the gains last month occurred in the public sector, which saw a large 38,900 gain, while the private sector shed 26,000 jobs. Self-employment fell by 5,500.
Statistics Canada said the biggest gains were in business, building and other support services, where employment rose by about 24,000. Health care and social assistance added 20,000 and there was a gain of 19,000 in educational services.
Offsetting the employment gains, the number of workers in the information, culture and recreation fields fell by 31,000, while there were 20,000 fewer agricultural workers in June. There were also minor declines in construction and manufacturing.
Regionally, there was an even split among provinces with employment increases as those with declines, but aside from Ontario, the differences from the previous month were small in comparison to their populations, the agency said.