New Brunswick's economy sheds jobs

New Brunswick's unemployment rate rose to 10.1 per cent in February, a slight increase from January, according to Statistics Canada.

Unemployment rate rises to 10.1%

New Brunswick's unemployment rate rose to 10.1 per cent in February, a small increase from January, according to Statistics Canada.

The province's jobless rate was 10.1 per cent in February up from 9.5 per cent in January.

There were 352,600 people employed in February down from 355,200 people in January.

The number of full-time jobs in February was 296,600 down from 297,700 last month.

There was also a drop in the number of part-time jobs in the last month. Statistics Canada reported 55,900 part-time jobs in New Brunswick down from 57,600 in January.

The province's labour force also dropped marginally to 392,300 from 392,600.

The province's northern regions remain as the areas with the highest unemployment, according to the national statistics agency.

In February, the Campbellton-MIramichi region had an unemployment rate of 16.3 per cent and the Edmundston-Woodstock region has an 11.1 per cent unemployment rate.

Meanwhile, the Moncton-Richibucto region had the lowest unemployment rate at 8.1 per cent followed by Fredericton-Oromocto at 8.6 per cent and Saint John-St. Stephen at 8.8 per cent.

Statistics Canada also indicated Canada's economy lost 2,800 jobs in February, leaving the unemployment rate little changed at 7.4 per cent.

'Not a happy day'

Liberal MLA Donald Arseneault, the opposition’s finance critic, said the economic trends are very disappointing.

"It’s not a happy day for New Brunswick," Arseneault said.

"We are frustrated and disappointed that this government has not made the economy a priority."

He said the Liberals plan to make job creation a top priority in the upcoming session.

Arseneault also said he is concerned that unemployment could continue on an upward track after the March 27 budget.

The party’s finance critic said Finance Minister Blaine Higgs has talked repeatedly about reducing the size of government and that could translate into more people looking for work after the upcoming budget.

"We are always concerned. This is a government that is talking about cutting many jobs in various sectors in the civil service. The scariest thing is that there is no plan. If you want to cut, cut, cut, how do we get out of this [time of high unemployment]? We have to invest in people too," he said.

Arseneault said the Alward government ran on a promise in the last election campaign that it had a plan for the economy. He said the provincial government needs to start implementing that plan so the unemployment rate can start falling.

Sad, but no surprise

NDP Leader Dominic Cardy said seeing the jobless figure slide above 10 per cent is "sad, but not a surprise.

"Liberal and Conservative governments have done nothing to make our province less dependent on handouts from Ottawa, less dependent on corporate welfare," he said in a statement.

"The government needs to recognize that unemployment cannot be driven down by bribing companies to hire New Brunswickers," Cardy said.

"We have to invest in our workers through education, job re-training, and a health, infrastructure and energy sector that leads the country. When we have that we will attract companies who will create high-paying high-skill jobs. That has to be our goal."