OTTAWA — Canada’s unemployment rate climbed to 6.8 per cent in February as Alberta’s labour market showed its first significant decline since the global oil slump, Statistics Canada said Friday.
The agency’s latest labour-market survey found the country’s jobless rate crept up from 6.6 per cent the previous month — even though it only registered a month-to-month net loss of 1,000 jobs.
The data said unemployment rate for February rose because while the labour force grew by 49,200 people, the growth in the number of unemployed people was even greater at 50,200.
The unemployment rate came in higher than the 6.7 per cent consensus projection of economists, who also predicted a net loss of 5,000 jobs, according to Thomson Reuters.
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Many economists had been expecting to see the negative effects of the plunge in oil prices surface in the February data.
The survey said energy-rich Alberta lost 14,000 net jobs in February and saw its unemployment rate surge by 0.8 percentage points last month to 5.3 per cent — its highest level since September 2011.
The agency said Alberta’s natural resources sector alone shed 7,000 positions — most of them in support activities for mining, oil and gas.
British Columbia’s natural resources industry suffered a net loss of 7,200 jobs, while the sector shed 16,900 positions overall from coast to coast.
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The report also found that Canada had a net loss of 19,900 jobs in manufacturing, with most of those losses coming in Alberta and Ontario.
In Ontario, the jobless rate held firm at 6.9 per cent.
Youth unemployment shot up to 13.3 per cent in February from 12.8 per cent the month before, while the jobless rate for men 25 years and older increased to 6.2 per cent from 5.8 per cent.
The unemployment rate for women 25 years and older held steady at 5.2 per cent.
The economy also saw a net loss of 29,000 jobs in the private sector, while it registered a net gain of 24,300 jobs in public-sector positions.