UPDATE 1-Canada sheds jobs in Feb; unemployment at nearly 3-year high

Fri Mar 11, 2016 8:50am EST
 
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OTTAWA, March 11 (Reuters) - The Canadian economy unexpectedly shed jobs last month, pushing the unemployment rate to a nearly three-year high due mainly to a loss of full-time positions, data from Statistics Canada showed on Friday.

The labor market lost 2,300 positions in February, falling short of analysts' expectations for a gain of 9,000 jobs.

That put the unemployment rate at 7.3 percent, its highest since March 2013. Economists in a Reuters poll had expected it to hold at 7.2 percent.

The loss of 51,800 full-time positions more than offset a gain of 49,500 part-time jobs. The participation rate held steady at 65.9 percent.

The healthcare and social assistance field saw the biggest losses with a decline of 19,600 jobs, followed by the educational services sector. The natural resources sector, which has suffered because of cheaper oil prices, continued to weaken with a loss 8,900 jobs.

The construction industry added 34,000 new positions, although that still left the sector little changed from a year earlier.

The province of Alberta, which has been hurt by layoffs in the energy sector, added a meager 1,400 jobs, but an increase in people looking for work sent the unemployment rate up to 7.9 percent there, its highest since August 1995.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)