Following an increase the previous month, employment declined by 55,000 in March in Canada, all in full-time work. The unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage points to 7.2 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.
However, employment was 1.2 per cent or 203,000 above the level of 12 months earlier, with the increase mainly in full-time work. Over the same period, the total number of hours worked also rose by 1.2 per cent.
Provincially, employment declined in Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta, and edged down in Ontario. The only province with an increase was Nova Scotia, said the Labour Force Survey.
There were 85,000 fewer private sector employees in March, while the number of self-employed rose by 39,000 and the number of public sector employees was little changed.
Compared with 12 months earlier, the number of private sector employees increased by one per cent or 111,000, while the number of self-employed was up 2.1 per cent or 55,000 as a result of the gains in March. Public sector employment was little changed over the 12-month period, said the government.
Employment in Quebec declined by 17,000 in March and the unemployment rate rose 0.3 percentage points to 7.7 per cent. Despite this decrease, employment in the province was 1.6 per cent above the level of 12 months earlier, compared with a national growth rate of 1.2 per cent.
Employment in British Columbia was down 15,000, offsetting most of the increase in February, said Statistics Canada. This pushed the unemployment rate up 0.7 percentage points to seven per cent. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in the province was little changed.
In Alberta, there were 11,000 fewer people employed in March, the first notable decline in more than two years. The unemployment rate in the province rose 0.3 percentage points to 4.8 per cent, still one of the lowest in the country. While there were fewer people working in March, Alberta experienced employment growth of 1.7 per cent on a year-over-year basis.
In Ontario, employment edged down by 17,000, following an increase of 35,000 the month before. The unemployment rate held steady at 7.7 per cent, a result of fewer people participating in the labour force, said the report. Year-over-year employment growth in the province was 0.8 per cent.
Nova Scotia was the only province with an employment increase in March, up 2,900, following a similar increase the month before. The unemployment rate in the province was 9.5 per cent. Despite the gains, employment was little changed compared to 12 months earlier.
While employment in Saskatchewan was little changed, the province experienced the strongest year-over-year growth in the country, at 4.6 per cent, said Statistics Canada. The unemployment rate was 3.9 per cent in March, still the lowest among all provinces.
In March, there were notable employment declines in accommodation and food services, public administration and manufacturing.
Employment in accommodation and food services fell by 25,000, offsetting an increase the month before. This left employment in the industry similar to the level of 12 months earlier.
Public administration employment decreased by 24,000, leaving employment in this industry down slightly from 12 months earlier, found the survey.
The number of workers in manufacturing declined by 24,000 in March, following a similar decrease the previous month. Employment growth in the spring of 2012 was followed by losses since the summer, leaving employment in this industry down 2.8 per cent from 12 months earlier.
Employment declines among people 25 to 54
Among people aged 25 to 54, employment declined by 47,000, equally divided between men and women. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment for this age group was up 0.6 per cent or 68,000.
Employment among those aged 55 and over was little changed in March. On a year-over-year basis, employment among people in this age group rose by 4.2 per cent or 135,000, partly a result of population aging, said the government.
Among youths aged 15 to 24, employment was also little changed, while their unemployment rate increased 0.6 percentage points to 14.2 per cent, as more youths searched for work. Employment among youths has been on a slight upward trend since August 2012.
Quarterly update for the territories
In the first quarter of 2013, employment and the unemployment rates in Yukon and the Northwest Territories were similar to those of the first quarter of 2012. The unemployment rate was 7.6 per cent in Yukon and eight per cent in the Northwest Territories in the first quarter of 2013, found Statistics Canada.
In Nunavut, employment increased by 700 in the first quarter of 2013, compared with the same quarter in 2012, and the unemployment rate fell from 15.3 per cent to 11.4 per cent over the same period.
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