54,500 jobs lost in March

Canada experienced the worst jobs performance in almost four years last month as 54,500 full time, private sector positions disappeared — an unexpectedly big drop that erased a gain in February.

The loss was the biggest since February 2009, and along with a small retreat in the number of Canadians looking for work, helped lift the unemployment rate two-tenths of a point to 7.2 per cent.

Economists had expected a weak March to even out the above-trend gains of February, but few saw such massive bleeding, leaving the country with about 26,000 fewer jobs than at the beginning of the year.

To make matters worse, all the pay-back was in the full-time category.

The losses in the economically important private sector were mammoth, with 85,400 workers joining the ranks of the unemployed.

The only gain was in the less desirable self-employment category, where almost 39,000 Canadians created their own employment, likely an indication many could not find permanent work.

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