Economy sheds 129,000 jobs in January

Ontario, B.C. and Quebec account for all job losses

As Canada begins to feel the true force of the latest recession, another 129,000 people joined the ranks of the unemployed in January, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada.

This is the largest monthly job loss on record, exceeding any monthly decline during the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s, and it pushed the unemployment rate up 0.6 percentage points to 7.2 per cent.

The majority of job losses came from manufacturing where the net loss totalled 101,000. While there were declines in many other industries, there were notable gains in health care and social assistance, which saw 31,000 new jobs.

Since January 2008, health care and social assistance has experienced the fastest employment growth of all industries, up 5.1 per cent (95,000 new jobs), with gains in social assistance, nursing and residential care facilities as well as hospitals.

Canada's three largest provinces accounted for January's entire employment decrease, with more than one-half of job losses (71,000) coming from Ontario. British Columbia shed 35,000 jobs and Quebec lost 26,000 jobs.

Ontario's employment drop was its largest in more than three decades. This decrease pushed the unemployment rate up 0.8 percentage points to eight per cent, the highest since November 1997.

Following a five-year period of sustained growth, construction employment in B.C. fell for the fourth consecutive month in January, bringing total losses in that industry to 32,000 since its peak in September 2008.

Men aged 25 to 54 were hardest hit in January, accounting for two-thirds of this age group's 111,000 job losses.

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