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Unemployment rises to 7.1%

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 — or 0.4 per cent of the labour force — 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.

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