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Unemployment rate edges up; construction hit worst

OTTAWA -- The number of laid off truck drivers and other transportation workers in February was not anywhere as severe as the previous month.

According to the latest unemployment numbers from Stats Canada, the construction sector saw the majority of lay-offs last month, making up nearly half of the total 83,000 job losses nationally.

The largest decline in employment occurred in Ontario (-35,000), followed by Alberta (-24,000) and Quebec (-18,000).

Employment decreased by 43,000 in construction, the second large decline in three months (-6.4%). The downward trend coincides with the recent weakness in building permits and housing starts.

Last month, about 30,000 jobs alone were lost in transportation and warehousing, largely, said Statscan, in truck transportation in Ontario.

In February, employment in Ontario fell by 35,000. This pushed the unemployment to 8.7 percent in the province, the highest since April 1997.

Since last October, just over half of the country's total employment losses have occurred in Ontario, well beyond the province's 39 percent share of the total working-age population.

Surprisingly, manufacturing created 25,000 jobs -- with the largest gain in food products. Still, despite the boost, manufacturing employment was down 5.3 percent overall.

That could deepen in March as several automotive, truck, and related components suppliers are scheduled to close up shops.
Meanwhile, the number of workers in agriculture as their main job increased, despite the industry being down 13,000 over the last year.


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