New Brunswick's unemployment rate surged to 11.6 per cent in October after 600 jobs were lost last month, according to Statistics Canada.

The monthly labour force survey showed there were 2,100 fewer full-time jobs last month, while 1,600 part-time jobs were added. Overall, there were 600 fewer jobs in October, according to Statistics Canada.

October's unemployment rate of 11.6 per cent was up from 11 per cent in September.

This is the highest unemployment New Brunswick has experienced since May 2003 when the jobless rate spiked to 11.9 per cent.

The unemployment rate in Saint John stood at nine per cent in October, down marginally from 9.1 per cent in September. 

Meanwhile, Moncton’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.1 per cent last month from 7.2 per cent in September.

However, the unemployment rate in northern New Brunswick continued to grow.

In the last year, the public administration, construction and manufacturing sectors have taken the largest hit in terms of job losses, the figures show.

There were 22,700 people employed in the public administration sector in October, down 10.3 per cent from the same time last year.

The construction industry has 24,700 workers, which is a reduction of 11.5 per cent in the last year. Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector lost nine per cent of its work force, according to Statistics Canada.

Unemployment jumps in northeast

The unemployment rate in the Campbellton-Miramichi region stood at 16.1 per cent in October, up from 14.6 per cent in September.

The Fredericton-Oromocto region saw its jobless rate inch up to 7.8 per cent in October. However, the capital region still has the lowest unemployment rate in the province.

The unemployment rate dropped in three other regions of the province.

In Saint John-St. Stephen, the unemployment rate fell to 9.3 per cent from 10.1 per cent.

And the unemployment rate in western New Brunswick also dipped below double figures.

The jobless rate in the Edmundston-Woodstock region dropped to 9.4 per cent in October from 10.6 in September.

The smallest drop in unemployment came in eastern New Brunswick, according to Statistics Canada. The jobless rate fell to 8.2 per cent in October from 8.3 per cent in September.

Focus on economy

The Opposition Liberals issued a statement on Friday saying the upcoming legislative session must focus on the economy.

Liberal MLA Roger Melanson said the combination of the rising deficit projection and unemployment rate is worrisome.

"It is time for the Alward government to admit we have a problem," Melanson said in a statement.

"We need to work together to solve our problems. We need to use this upcoming session to look at why this government’s approach to economic development is not working."

The Liberal critic said the provincial government should re-evaluate Invest NB, the province's economic development agency.

Melanson said the agency has not produced results.

"The budget for Invest NB this year is more than $14 million and we have nothing to show for it," Melanson said.

"If this agency is not doing the job it is intended to do, we should look at investing that money in programs that will help create jobs."