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Canada's Unemployment Rate Rises To 8.6 Per Cent

Canada’s economy shed more than 43,000 jobs last month in a clear indication that the struggling economy is still feeling the aftershock of the deep recession that erupted a year ago.

The unexpectedly large job loss – the consensus of economists was for a gain of 10,000 – pushed Canada’s unemployment rate up two-tenths of a point to 8.6 per cent and reverses much of the previous two months’ jobs rebound.

Rising unemployment in the early stages of a timid recovery from recession is not considered unusual, but the October data revealed unusual weakness given the hopeful signals of the previous two months.

However, the result somewhat supports Statistics Canada’s lesser-known industry tracking, which has recently reported mounting job losses even while the better-known labour market survey was detecting increases.

Not only did 43,200 jobs vanish into thin air in October – the result would have been worse without the pick-up of 27,500 in self-employment during the month.

That meant there were 70,700 fewer actual employees in October – 45,200 fewer in the private sector, and 25,600 less in the public sector.

In a weak economy, economists discount self-employment gains as mostly involuntary, the result of enterprising Canadians who have tried but cannot find regular employment.

Not all the details in the October data were gloomy, however.

Statistics Canada noted that all of the job losses were part-time, and that, including self-employment, there was a net increase of 16,500 full-time jobs.

As well, hourly wages were 3.3 per cent higher than a year ago, well above Canada’s official inflation rate.

But that’s where the good news ended. The agency said the October data pushes the job loss total since October 2008, when the global recession began in Canada, to 400,000, or 2.3 per cent of the labour force.

The employment decline in the private sector has been more precipitous, a 4.1 per cent fall.

“Since October 2008, employment has fallen in most industries, with the steepest declines in manufacturing (-11 per cent), natural resources (-11 per cent), construction (-5.8 per cent), and transportation and warehousing (-5.8 per cent),” the agency said in a note.

The majority of the losses last month came in retail and wholesale trade, which shed 31,000 jobs. Employment in the natural resources sector also fell by 11,000, continuing a downward trend that began in February.

On the plus side, construction jobs edged up, as did transportation and warehousing, while the weak manufacturing sector was mostly unchanged.

Regionally, Alberta, British Columbia and Newfoundland suffered the greatest number of job losses proportionally.