Business

Unemployment rate jumps to 5.7% in July as more people look for fewer jobs

Canada's economy lost 24,000 jobs in July, and the unemployment rate moved up 0.2 percentage points to 5.7 per cent.

Canada's economy lost 24,000 jobs last month

Canada's economy has added more than 300,000 jobs in the past year, but the jobless rate ticked up in July as more people were looking for work, too. (Matthew Staver/Bloomberg News)

Canada's economy lost 24,000 jobs in July, and the unemployment rate moved up 0.2 percentage points to 5.7 per cent.

Alberta, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick lost jobs, while Quebec and Prince Edward Island added them, Statistics Canada reported Friday. Everywhere else, the job market held steady.

The data agency said 11,000 people joined the workforce last month, but the total number of jobs shrank by more than twice that, the reason the jobless rate moved up two ticks to 5.7 per cent.

Canada's economy lost almost 12,000 full-time jobs in July, and slightly more part-time jobs were lost on top of that, too.

The private sector lost almost 70,000 jobs.

"Were it not for a modest gain in self-employment [which was up by 27,700], the headline would have been worse," TD Bank economist Brian DePratto said.

July's numbers mean that over the past 12 months, Canada's economy has added 353,000 jobs, the vast majority full time. While July marks the third month in a row of a weak job number, DePratto said the long-term trend is looking fine.

"We should remember that this pause in job growth is coming on the heels of a string of robust gains earlier in the year."

If there was a bright spot in the numbers, it was that wages have grown by 4.5 per cent in the past 12 months, the fastest annual pace in a decade.

"Wage gains accelerated well beyond market expectations, suggesting that the recent pause in net hiring may be reflective of tight labour conditions," DePratto said.

But economist Brendon Bernard, of employment firm Indeed Canada, said it's hard to view the data as a strong positive. 

"While still in decent shape overall, the job market clearly has lost some momentum. It's discouraging to see employment growth lose steam amid recent signs of turmoil in the global economy."

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