Canada's Unemployment Rate Rises To 7.1% Amid Big Job Losses In Ontario

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Canada's unemployment rate rose by a notch in September as the country added a tepid 12,000 jobs, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

However, those job gains were in part-time positions; the number of full-time jobs dropped by a steep 61,900 in the month.

The jobless rate rose to 7.1 per cent from 7 per cent a month earlier, driven by large job losses in Ontario. Canada's largest province lost 33,800 jobs in the month, with the province's jobless rate jumping a notch to 6.9 per cent.

It's the last unemployment report from StatsCan before the Oct. 19 federal election.

Alberta and British Columbia led job growth in the month, with each province adding 12,000 jobs. Alberta's jobless rate rose to 6.5 per cent as more people looked for work. B.C.'s jobless rate rose to 6.3 per cent.

Statistics Canada noted that job growth in Canada has been slowing all year, from a rate of 63,000 new jobs in the first quarter to less than half that, 31,000, in the third quarter.

The September numbers are largely the opposite of what economists had been expecting. Western Canada was supposed to be struggling with job growth amid the oil price collapse, and Ontario was supposed to be benefiting from lower oil prices and a lower loonie.

"Employers aren’t doing much employing these days," CIBC economist Avery Shenfeld wrote in a client note. He noted that paid jobs are down this month, and up only 0.6 per cent on the year, less than population growth.

At the same time, there has been a 2.5-per-cent spike in "self employment," which Shenfeld says is "a sign of a job market that's forcing people to hang up their own shingle."

Read more: Self-Employment Rises With Joblessness, StatsCan Study Shows

BMO chief economist Doug Porter noted that this marks the first time since the Great Recession that Canada's jobless rate is higher than it was a year ago -- a development he describes as "not good."

"With the economy only managing to grow about 1 per cent in real terms over the past year, it’s no shock that the jobless rate is nudging higher (sprinting higher, in the case of hard-hit Alberta)," Porter wrote. "Overall, the Bank of Canada will view this release as consistent with an economy that is growing well below potential, which is what they were assuming in any event."

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