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Canada continues to see job growth

Manitoba sheds 2,200 positions in June

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OTTAWA -- The Canadian economy posted better-than-expected job growth in June, helped by a gain in part-time jobs to post its third consecutive month of increases.

Statistics Canada reported Friday the net gain of 28,000 jobs came at the end of a quarter of slow economic growth.

It stood in stark contrast to a disappointing report south of the border, where the much larger U.S. economy gained just 18,000 jobs.

The Manitoba economy, meanwhile, shed 2,200 jobs in June, bumping up the provincial unemployment rate by two-tenths of a percentage point to 5.5 per cent.

Statistics Canada said there were only 621,800 working people in the province last month versus 624,000 in May.

It said all of the lost jobs were full-time positions.

TD Bank chief economist Craig Alexander called the discrepancy between the Canadian and U.S. performances "ridiculous."

"In the wake of the recent recession, the Canadian economy is generating a job-filled recovery, even to the point where economists are worried about the fact that it doesn't appear that we're getting much productivity growth out of our workers," he said.

"Meanwhile, the story in the United States is the dead opposite."

Statistics Canada said the Canadian economy added 21,000 part-time jobs, compared with 7,000 new full-time jobs. Economists had expected an overall increase of 10,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, the country's unemployment rate held steady in June at 7.4 per cent as the number of people entering the workforce increased.

In the U.S. however, the employment rate rose to 9.2 per cent from 9.1 per cent in May, according to the U.S. Labour Department.

The loonie was down 0.53 of a cent to US103.78 cents following the two reports.

BMO deputy chief economist Douglas Porter characterized the Canadian report as a small point in favour of the Bank of Canada gradually raising its key interest rate later this year.

"If you blinked, you may have missed the slowdown in Canada's job growth," Porter wrote in a note to clients.

"While the details of the release may not be as impressive as the sturdy headline, there is no denying that the labour market continues to make impressive progress."

The Canadian results came as the economy slowed in the second quarter.

David Madani, Canadian economist at Capital Economics, said GDP growth in Canada slowed to an annual rate of 1.2 per cent in the April-June quarter compared with a rate of 3.9 per cent in the first three months of the year.

"Although we anticipate a partial rebound in the third quarter, prospects for a sustained rebound in the second half of this year appear to be slipping," Madani wrote in a note.

"We also expect any pickup in U.S. economic growth during the second half of this year to be limited and growth in the developing world appears to be slowing."

Alexander noted it was that weakness in the U.S. and worries about the global economy that would likely keep the Bank of Canada from raising its key interest rate until next year.

The bank last hiked interest rates last September, lifting its policy-setting rate to one per cent.

"The recent job numbers and the recent inflation numbers would make the case from a domestic point of view that they could raise rates in the near term," Alexander said.

"However, most of the commentary from the Bank of Canada has emphasized the external risks."

Alexander also noted he expected job creation in Canada to slow in the second half of the year.

"It is not going to be negative. It is not going to contract or anything like that, it's just going to have to slow because the economy won't support the same rate of job creation," he said.

-- CP, with files from staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 9, 2011 B6

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