BUSINESS

Canada's Unemployment Rate Highest In 3 Years; Quebec Beats Alberta In 30-Year First

03/11/2016 08:38 EST | Updated 03/11/2016 08:38 EST

Canada's job market was flat in February, registering a small decline of 2,300 jobs.

But that was enough to push the unemployment rate to 7.3 per cent, from 7.2 per cent in January, the highest the rate has been since March, 2013, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

Beneath the headlines, the numbers looked even worse: The country lost 52,000 full-time jobs in the month, and that was largely offset by part-time hiring. Employment grew in only one demographic, StatsCan said — men over the age of 55.

unemployment canada

Canada's jobless rate has been on an upward trend since late 2014. (Chart: StatsCan)

Alberta posted a surprise gain of 1,400 jobs, but that wasn't enough to keep the province from setting some brutal milestones. Its unemployment rate spiked to 7.9 per cent, from 7.4 per cent, to the highest level in more than 20 years. The last time Alberta had an unemployment rate that high was December, 1995.

And the Canadian Press noted that the province's jobless rate is higher than Quebec's for the first time in some 30 years. In the 40-year history of StatsCan's labour force survey, the only time Alberta had a higher jobless rate than Quebec was a four-month stretch from October, 1986, to January, 1987.

British Columbia was the only province that added jobs in February, a net total of 14,100 new positions. Ontario posted a surprise loss of 11,200 jobs, pulling its unemployment rate up a notch to 6.8 per cent.

Ontario and B.C. were pegged to lead job growth in Canada this year.

Oil-producing regions continue to suffer. Alberta posted a surprise gain of 1,400 jobs, but that wasn't enough to keep the province's unemployment rate from spiking to 7.9 per cent, from 7.4 per cent a month earlier.

Saskatchewan lost 7,800 jobs and its unemployment rate jumped three notches to 5.9 per cent.