Unemployment rate holds steady

Job growth in Quebec offsets losses in other parts of Canada to keep rate at 6.9 per cent

OTTAWA  (CP) — Canada's economy added about 13,200 jobs last month, thanks to an outsized gain in Quebec that helped keep the national unemployment rate at a post-recession low of 6.9 per cent for a second month.

The overall job creation number, which offset some of Quebec's gains with losses in Ontario and other provinces, was consistent with an economy that is expanding, but at a slow pace.

Most encouraging was that the unemployment rate stayed at the lowest level it has been since before the deep 2008-09 recession, and that it managed to achieve the feat without a drop in the labour force.

But overall, the details of October's labour force report were rather mixed.

On the strong side, there were 25,200 more full-time employees during the month, and the number of self-employed Canadians fell. On the soft side, the private sector laid of 22,100 jobs, while the gains — 47,300 — came in the public sector.

Regionally, the big surprise came in Quebec, which added 34,100 new workers, the vast majority coming in the accommodation and food service industries.

Statistics Canada offered no explanation for what appeared to be an anomaly in what otherwise would have been considered a steady labour market report.

Partially offsetting Quebec's increase, Ontario shed 14,700 jobs. There were also small employment declines in British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

October's minor jobs uptick brings total job creation over the past year to 214,000, about the level of employment increase that economists believe is necessary to keep up with population and labour force expansion.

By sector, accommodation and food services added about 30,000 workers in October, while employment in health care and social assistance rose by 20,000 and by an almost equal amount in the public administration industry.

Meanwhile, employment in the business, building and other support services fell by 33,000 and both manufacturing and construction continued to struggle with minor declines in employment.

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