Unemployment rate remains unchanged at 7.1 per cent

OTTAWA – Job creation took a breather in Canada last month as employers pulled back on hiring following a wild May that saw an unsustainably high 95,000 new jobs added, leaving many to question the accuracy of the country’s key labour report.

June’s data from Statistics Canada, issued Friday, was more in keeping with expectations as the agency recorded a loss of about 400 jobs — a statistically insignificant number that kept the unemployment rate moored at 7.1 per cent.

But even those flat numbers were better than what analysts had expected following May’s too-good-to-be-true report. The consensus was for a loss of 12,500 jobs, mostly based on the belief that May’s job gains would need to be smoothed out.

The most recent numbers on the economy as a whole have tended to suggest a slowing of activity in the second quarter of 2013 — the April-June period — which would also be conducive to modest growth in labour markets.

Statistics Canada noted that for the first six months of this year, job creation has averaged a modest 14,000 a month, or about half the pace of the last half of 2012.

The details in the June report were also in keeping with the theme that a payback was due from May.

Full-time employment actually fell by 32,400, offset by a similar-sized gain in part-time work. As well, private sector employment slipped by 5,300, contrasted by small gains in the public sector and in self-employment.

The agency said flooding in southern Alberta posed some problems with its data collection in June, but that it believed the impact on the estimates would be negligible.

By sector, the big winners last month were in the professional, scientific and technical services industries, which saw an increase of 27,000 workers, while accommodation and food services shed 20,000, and information, culture and recreation slipped by 15,000.

There was little change in the construction and manufacturing sectors.

Regionally, gains and losses were evenly split among the provinces, with no major ups or downs in hiring.

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