Canada lost about 7,000 jobs in February but the unemployment rate stayed steady at seven per cent, Statistics Canada reported Friday.
Analysts had estimated about 16,000 jobs would be added.
Much of the losses came from public sector jobs, where the figure declined by almost 51,000 people, the agency said. That was offset by gains of 35,000 and 8,000 in the private sector and among the ranks of those self-employed.
The decline brings the rolling total for the past twelve months to 95,000 net new jobs over the past year. That's weak growth by historical standards.
There were, however, a few somewhat bright spots underneath the gloomy looking headline figure.
A lot of the jobs lost were part-time, while full-time employment rose by 18,900.
"The details beneath the headline print are MUCH better in our view and particularly in terms of reason to seriously question the dominant downward influence which was a hefty drop in public sector jobs," Scotiabank economists Dov Ziegler and Derek Holt said in a note following the release of the data.
"Stepping back, employment growth in Canada has now stalled over the past six months," TD Bank economist Sonya Gulati said. "Some comfort will be had that full-time positions and the private sector have been holding up reasonably well beneath the headline."
Regionally, Quebec and British Columbia both had employment declines — 25,500 and 10,400 respectively — while Alberta and Nova Scotia saw gains of 19,000 and 2,900.
Six out of 10 provinces posted gains.