OTTAWA — Canada's economy added about 6,600 jobs last month — essentially reversing a similar decline in June but not enough to change a national unemployment rate that has been stuck at 6.8 per cent for six months in a row.
Statistics Canada says there were fewer people with full-time employment last month and more with part-time jobs or who were self-employed.
It also says men aged 25 to 54 accounted for most of the gains while there was little change among other demographic groups such as women and youth and the number of people employed in the public and private sectors was stable.
Regionally, the biggest winner was Quebec — which added 21,700 jobs in total in July, mostly part-time — while the number was flat or lower in most of the other provinces.
The agency says there were 17,300 fewer Canadians with full-time jobs in July compared with June but 23,900 more who had part-time employment.
There was also an additional 41,000 people more people who were self-employed in July.
The monthly survey provides a fresh reading on Canada's economy, one of the major issues for the federal election campaign that was officially launched this week.
There's been an ongoing debate in political and business circles about whether Canada entered a full recession in the first half of 2015, although there seems to be undeniable evidence that the economy shrank in the first and second quarters.
CIBC World Markets economist Nick Exarhos writes that the six-month trend "isn't yet pointing to Canada being in recession" because there have been 11,000 jobs added over a period that included a major downturn in the oil and gas sector.
"Indeed, the provincial breakdown highlights the narrow hit that the oil shock has had, with Saskatchewan and Alberta reporting employment declines in July, while Quebec posted a healthy gain," Exarhos says in a brief commentary.
Statistics Canada says Quebec's provincial unemployment rate in July was 7.7 per cent, which was 0.3 points lower than in July but still well above a national unemployment rate that has been at 6.8 per cent since February.
In Ontario and British Columbia, two of the country's most populous provinces, total employment was little changed in July as decreases in full-time employment were offset by part-time jobs.
In Alberta, the unemployment rate increased by 0.3 percentage points to 6.0 per cent in July — still below the national rate — as more people searched for work. There were 4,300 fewer people employed, as 1,600 additional full-time jobs were offset by 5,900 fewer part-time positions.
Employment in Saskatchewan declined by 7,400 in July, in Manitoba there were 3,800 fewer people working and smaller declines were recorded in most of the Atlantic provinces. The exception was Nova Scotia, which added 3,100 positions, mostly full-time.
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