New Brunswick shed 3,000 jobs in September, pushing the province's unemployment rate to 9.8 per cent.

Statistics Canada released its monthly job figures on Friday, showing the province's unemployment rate approaching the 10 per cent threshold.

New Brunswick's unemployment rate is now behind only Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island, which stood at 13.5 per cent and 13.6 per cent, respectively. 

Canada's unemployment rates   
  September  August 
N.L. 13.5% 14% 
P.E.I.  13.6%  11.2%
N.S. 9%  9% 
N.B. 9.8%  9.6% 
Quebec 7.7% 8.2%
Ontario 8.8% 8.8%
Manitoba  5.4%  5.6% 
Saskatchewan 5.5% 4.8%
Alberta 6.2%  6.5% 
B.C.  7.5%  7.3% 

The national unemployment rate fell slightly to eight per cent, even as the economy lost 6,600 jobs in September.

Northeastern New Brunswick recorded the highest unemployment rate at 13.7 per cent. However, the economic news was just as alarming in parts of southern New Brunswick.

The unemployment rate in Saint John stood at nine per cent in September up from 5.9 per cent a year ago.

Meanwhile, the jobless rate in southwest New Brunswick jumped to 8.4 per cent from 5.9 per cent in September 2009.

The lowest unemployment rate in the province was in central New Brunswick, which was 6.8 per cent, and Moncton, which was seven per cent, in September.

The rising jobless rate is the second piece of grim economic data handed to premier-designate David Alward only a few days before he is sworn in on Oct. 12.

Standard & Poor's revised the province's outlook down to "negative" from "stable" on Thursday. The bond rating agency indicated in a statement that it did not believe New Brunswick's budget would be balanced in the medium term.

The outgoing Liberal government's 2010-11 budget forecast a $749-million deficit, which pushed the debt to $8.3 billion.

The Liberals had planned to balance the books in four years, a plan the rating agency indicated was not likely.

The incoming Progressive Conservative government has promised to get the province out of its deficit situation within four years.