WRAPUP 2-Canada sheds jobs in Feb; unemployment at nearly 3-year high

Fri Mar 11, 2016 10:58am EST
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(Recasts with details on regional, sector employment changes, add quotes)

By Leah Schnurr

OTTAWA, March 11 (Reuters) - Canada unexpectedly shed jobs last month, pushing the unemployment rate to a nearly three-year high due mainly to a loss of full-time positions, Statistics Canada said on Friday, but some economists were skeptical of the underlying factors.

Although February's decline stemmed from the loss of 51,800 full-time positions, economists said the large drops in healthcare and educational services were probably anomalies. The report can be volatile month-to-month.

After paring some gains just after the report, the Canadian dollar recovered to hit a four-month high against the greenback. The figures did not alter expectations that the Bank of Canada would hold rates steady at its next meeting in April.

The labor market in Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was hit particularly hard, with a loss of 48,900 full-time jobs.

"It is pretty tough to see why Ontario would have lost almost 50,000 full-time jobs in a single month," said BMO Capital Markets Chief Economist Doug Porter, adding he was skeptical of that element of the report.

Overall, Canada lost 2,300 jobs in February, missing expectations for a gain of 9,000. The decline in full-time work was tempered by the addition of 49,500 part-time jobs.

The unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent, its highest since March 2013.   Continued...