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March makes for second straight month of job losses in Manitoba

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The Manitoba economy posted a net loss of jobs for the second straight month in March, new Statistics Canada data shows.

In its monthly labour force survey report released today, the agency said the provincial economy shed 2,100 (rounded off) jobs during the month. That included 1,700 part-time and 300 full-time positions.

March’s losses followed a loss of 1,700 jobs in February.

The survey also showed there were 8,300 fewer employed Manitobans last month than in March of 2013.

With fewer people working, the province’s unemployment rate jumped to 5.7 per cent from 5.3 per cent in February. That’s the third-lowest jobless rate in the country after Saskatchewan’s 4.5 per cent and Alberta’s 4.9 per cent.

The only good news was that the provincial labour force gained back about 600 of the 4,300 workers it lost in February.

Canada’s economy, on the other hand, showed signs of thawing out from a long, bitter winter. It churned out an unexpectedly high 42,900 net new jobs that helped shave the unemployment rate to 6.9 per cent — matching a post-recession low.

The Canadian jobs gain, although mostly part-time, was about double what economists had anticipated and more than wipes out February’s 7,000 dip.

The loonie gained ground after the announcement. It had been at 90.69 cent cents US about an hour before the Canadian and U.S. government jobs reports and rose to 91.2 cents US shortly after they were released.

At 6.9 per cent, the Canadian jobless rate matches the lowest point it’s been since the 2008-09 recession. The employment increase did not budge the participation rate from 66.2 per cent, however, as more Canadians began looking for work in March.

The other surprise in the Statistics Canada report was that the vast majority of the new jobs last month — 32,500 — went to young Canadians, the 15-24 age group that has mostly been left behind during the recovery.

Statistics Canada said over the past 12 months, employment in Canada has risen by about 190,000 and the number of hours worked by 1.1 per cent.

If there was a soft spot in the Statistics Canada report, besides the preponderance of part-time work, it was that almost all the new jobs were in the public sector, while new private sector hiring was limited to 3,900. New part-time jobs outnumbered full-time 30,100 to 12,800.

Still, the March numbers will be seen as a positive to the economy, which had been having difficulty gathering momentum during the unusually cold winter. Prior to March, the previous three months had seen a net loss of almost 22,000 jobs.

Most economists believe the unseasonably cold weather both in Canada and the United States, particularly in December, has had a dampening effect on growth in both countries during the winter months.

— Staff/Canadian Press

CANADA'S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
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Updated on Friday, April 4, 2014 at 10:48 AM CDT: adds graphic

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