OTTAWA – Statistics Canada says 54,500 jobs disappeared from the economy in March and the unemployment rate climbed two-tenths of a point to 7.2 per cent.
The surprisingly weak employment report took back all of the gains of February and then some, leaving job creation in Canada in negative territory for the first three months of the year.
Economists had expected a modest 6,500 pick-up during the month, anticipating that February’s large gain could not be sustained. But few saw the cut in the labour market would run so deep.
To make matters worse, all the pay-back was in the full-time category, and in the economically significant private sector, the losses were mammoth — 85,400 workers joining the ranks of the unemployed.
The only gain was in the less desirable self-employment category, where almost 39,000 Canadians created their own employment, likely an indication many could not find permanent work.
The agency says that over the past year, only 111,000 private-sector jobs have been created.
Regionally, employment fell in six of the 10 provinces, with Ontario and Quebec leading that way, each shedding about 17,000 workers.