BUSINESS
12/02/2011 07:04 EST | Updated 02/01/2012 05:12 EST

Canada's Unemployment Rate Edges Up As Country Sheds 18,600 Jobs

But instead, another 18,600 workers fell out of the labour pool last month — all and more of the part-time variety, and concentrated in the services sector and in Quebec.

Statistics Canada noted that despite the most recent declines, there are 212,000 more Canadians working today than a year ago, a pickup of about 1.2 per cent of the labour force.

But all those gains are yesterday's news. November's losses makes five consecutive months, since June, that the economy has failed to create jobs in the aggregate. In fact, during the period, employment is down about 10,000.

The employment record appears to dovetail with the collapse in business and consumer confidence that began in late July after equity markets began a sustained sell-off on worrying trends in Europe's sovereign debt crisis, and political gridlock in Washington that led to a downgrade in the country's credit rating.

The Bank of Canada, and other forecasters, have warned Canada faces at best sluggish economic activity during this fourth quarter of 2011 and in the early months of 2012 — and even worse outcomes should Europe's troubles trigger a global financial crisis.

Not all the details in November's employment report were negative. Full-time employment actually rose by 34,600, more than offset by the 53,300 dip in part-time work. And hours worked increased by 0.3 per cent after two consecutive months of declines.

Regionally, the losses were concentrated in Quebec, which saw its employment fall by 30,500 split between part-time and full-time.

The agency said the services sector had a bad month in November, with a 34,000 decrease in retail and wholesale trade, and business, building and support services shedding 29,000.

The goods producing sector fared somewhat better as 20,000 workers were added in construction, 10,000 in natural resources and about 8,000 in utilities. In the last 12 months, natural resources has seen employment rise an impressive 8.3 per cent, a reflection of the strong global demand for Canadian commodities such as oil, metals and potash.

Aside from Quebec, Saskatchewan also had a notable drop in employment relative to its size of 4,200. Nova Scotia picked up 4,400, however, and Ontario saw a gain of 16,600 — 31,800 in full-time workers — during the month. Other provinces did not register major changes in employment.