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Unemployment rate slips to 7.2% in July

People wait at a human resources centre in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody

The Canadian economy added 7,100 jobs in July, about half of what economists had expected, but the scant gain was enough to build on three consecutive months of growth.

Statistics Canada said Friday the country’s unemployment rate fell last month to 7.2 per cent as fewer people entered the workforce. There were 25,500 more full-time workers and 18,400 fewer part-time workers in July.

“Not exactly what the doctor ordered, but not bad,” BMO Capital Markets deputy chief economist Doug Porter wrote in a note to investors.

“The Canadian jobs report sets a reasonably good table. The headline jobs tally was a touch light, but the details of the report are unambiguously healthier — the strong gain in full-time jobs, the pop in private sector employment, and the fact that the overall number was skewed lower by yet another July drop in education employment.”

While the number of net jobs created was lower than predicted, the unemployment rate came in pretty much as economists had forecast.

“Markets had been expecting an unchanged position,” Peter Buchanan, senior economist at CIBC World Markets, wrote in an investors’ note.

“A fairly mixed report overall, with the details somewhat better than the headline.”

Increases in the private sector were offset by losses in the public sector and fewer people who were self employed.

The gains were led by the construction sector, which saw an increase of 31,000 jobs. Employment in the transportation and warehousing sector was up 28,000 jobs, and there were also 28,000 more people working in retail and wholesale trade in July.

There were 39,000 fewer jobs in health-care and social assistance, 30,000 fewer jobs in elementary and secondary schools, 14,000 fewer jobs in business, building and other support services, 11,000 fewer jobs in natural resources and 9,000 fewer jobs in agriculture.

Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador posted job gains in July, while Ontario saw losses.

Employment was down 22,400 jobs in Ontario following a slight increase in June. Despite the drop, employment growth over the last year stands at 1.6 per cent, which is similar to the national growth rate.

The rest of the provinces were largely unchanged. Quebec’s jobless rate fell slightly, mostly because of fewer people entering the workforce.