Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Joblessness took surprise June dip

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OTTAWA -- Canada added a modest 7,300 jobs and the unemployment rate slipped to 7.2 per cent last month in a fresh indication the economy is straining to maintain momentum -- but has not yet buckled.

The June employment number is the most up-to-date signal of how the economy is performing, and economists visibly breathed a sign of relief the labour performance was not worse.

While the consensus estimate was for a gain of 5,000 jobs, some economists predicted an outright decline, particularly after the stunning 140,000 gain of March and April went against the run of weakening economic conditions.

"I'm never going to complain about a dip in the unemployment rate, and we did have a solid increase in hours worked in the month and the second quarter as a whole, which in some ways is almost a better measure," said Doug Porter, deputy chief economist with BMO Capital Markets.

"It could have been much worse," agreed Jimmy Jean, an economist with Desjardins Capital Markets.

Manitoba's unemployment rate edged up a notch to 5.2 per cent from 5.1 the previous month, posting a net loss of about 2,300 jobs, the StatsCan figures show.

While the province added 4,000 new full-time jobs, it also shed about 6,200 part-time ones.

In a statement, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the results show the country is on "the right track," but noted the fragility in the global economy, the United States and Europe.

"That's why we remain focused on measures to grow the economy... like the hiring credit for small business and over $1 billion in new support for research and development," he said.

In the U.S., employers added only 80,000 jobs in June, a third straight month of weak hiring. The unemployment rate was stayed at 8.2 per cent.

The June employment numbers probably will have few implications for the Bank of Canada's interest rate policy.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 7, 2012 B5

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