OTTAWA - Canada's official unemployment rate climbed to the highest level it's been in half a year in June, rising one-tenth of a point to 7.1 per cent as the Ontario economy shed 33,900 jobs in the month it was preparing to re-elect the provincial Liberals.
Nationally, the numbers were only slightly better with job losses overall of 9,400, all among young Canadians.
Economists had expected another strong month of job growth following May's 25,800 gain, and were in fact predicting Ontario would have a good month due to activity from the election campaign.
But in fact June merely served to underline what has become a year-long slump in job creation for the country, with the possible exception of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Over the past 12 months, the economy has added a mere 72,000 new jobs â€” or 0.4 per cent of the labour force â€” split evenly between part-time and full-time workers.
The prospects for the immediate future don't look encouraging. Earlier this week, the Bank of Canada's survey of business confidence found that Canadian firms' hiring intentions had eased somewhat from what they were three months ago.
That is in contrast to what is occurring in the United States, where monthly gains of 200,000 and more have become commonplace.
Still, Statistics Canada saw a positive in comparing the two countries, noting that if Canada's unemployment rate were adjusted according to how unemployment is calculated in the United States, the neighbouring nations would have identical jobless rates of 6.1 per cent.
That will be of little solace to Canadians looking for work, however. June saw unemployment overall rise by close to 25,000 as more Canadians went looking for work and found none.
The number would be worse if not for individuals creating their own jobs. The agency said self-employment rose by 23,400 in June, which means that employers shed 32,800 workers overall.
If there was a silver lining in the dour report, it was that full-time employment rose by 33,500, partly making up for the loss of 43,000 part-time jobs.
In June, the major setback was among youth workers, who gave back almost all the job gains of May with a drop of about 44,000.
Most of the job losses in the month came in the business, building and other support services category, as well as agriculture and manufacturing. However, construction work increased by 32,000, bringing employment in the industry back to last year's levels.
Regionally, Alberta was the only province to show notable job growth as full-time employment rose by 19,500.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version incorrectly had headlines reflecting May number, not June's unemployment figure of 7.1 per cent