New Brunswick's uneven job performance continued in April with the substantial loss of part-time work driving employment in the province to a 10-month low.

According to Statistics Canada's latest job count, New Brunswick shed 2,800 part-time positions in April, a loss that was only partially offset by the gain of 700 full-time jobs.

Overall, employment dropped to 351,600, the lowest number recorded in New Brunswick since last June.

Across Canada, jobs increased marginally in April by 3,200, the monthly labour force report,, released on Friday, shows.

Historically, New Brunswick has had trouble sustaining job growth for several years, often posting increases for short periods of time that then dissolve.

In his January state of the province address, Premier Brian Gallant noted a gain of 5,300 jobs between June and December last year and expressed confidence that represented a turning point.

"It means the economy's gaining some momentum," he said.

However, the province has since shed 3,200 jobs, including the latest losses in April.

Part-time work at 16-year low

One bright spot for New Brunswick has been the number of people working full time. Those jobs have climbed steadily since last fall and are now at a 27-month high.

But it's been the opposite for part-time work, which hit a 16-year low in April after the loss of 7,100 positions since last November, including those 2,800 in April. 

That kind of good news/bad news appears throughout New Brunswick's employment picture.

On the positive side, the unemployment rate in April was 8.7 per cent, the fourth month in a row it's been below nine per cent.

That's the first time that's happened in New Brunswick since 2010 although the major reason for the low rate it is negative — the exit of 7,800 people from New Brunswick's labour force since last October.

North, youth hardest hit

In the Campbellton-Miramichi region, the jobless rate was 18.1 per cent in April.

The Moncton-Richibucto ranked next worst at 9.1 per cent, followed by Edmundston-Woodstock at 9.0 per cent, Fredericton-Oromocto at 7.8 per cent, and Saint John-St. Stephen at 6.9 per cent.

Youth took the biggest hit between March and April, said Vincent Ferrao, an analyst with Statistics Canada.

The number of people aged 15 to 24 working in the province dropped by 1,400, pushing the unemployment rate up to 15.3 per cent from 14.1 per cent last month, he said.

For men aged 25 and older, there was virtually no change in employment, said Ferrao, but there were more of them coming into the labour force to look for work, so their unemployment rate increased to 9.5 per cent from 9.0 per cent.

Among women in the same age group, employment dropped by about 900, while the unemployment rate dipped to 5.6 per cent, compared with 5.8 per cent in March, he said.

Natural resources sees losses

The biggest job losses were in services and the natural resources sectors, said Ferrao.

There were about 1,200 fewer people working in services, a category that includes include wholesale and retail trade, health care and social assistance, the figures show. The number of people working in fishing, forestry, mining, oil and gas dropped by about 1,000.

Compared to this time last year, employment in the province is up by 1,900, representing a growth rate of 0.5 per cent, said Ferrao.

The unemployment rate is down almost a full point from 9.6 per cent last April, he said.

Gains in Fredericton, Saint John

Saint John enjoyed the biggest employment gains year over year, with 3,900 more people working and the unemployment rate down to 6.2 per cent from 8.3 per cent.

In Fredericton, employment is up by 1,200 and the unemployment rate has dropped to 6.3 per cent from 10.6 per cent.

Moncton employment decreased by 2,500, said Ferrao. But this decline in employment was accompanied by fewer people in the labour force, so the unemployment rate stands at 6.9 per cent, down slightly from 7.3 per cent a year ago, he said.

Bathurst had 800 more people working, with an unemployment rate of 15.3 per cent, down from 16.6 per cent, said Ferrao.

Miramichi saw no change in employment, but the number of people looking for work was up by 900, pushing the unemployment rate to 14 per cent from 8.2 per cent, he said.

In Edmundston, 800 fewer people were working compared to a year ago, but the unemployment rate dropped to 5.4 per cent from 10.3 per cent.