Ottawa-Gatineau sheds 2,000 jobs in August

Local employers trimmed their payrolls in the final month of summer, although the number of people working in the National Capital Region is still near its all-time high, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

The federal agency said employment levels in Ottawa-Gatineau declined by 2,000 people in August. Statistics Canada uses a three-month rolling average to report region-wide employment figures.

There were 720,200 local residents working last month. That's the second-highest level in at least six years, according to OBJ records.

However, a decline in the number of people looking for work meant that the unemployment rate in the National Capital Region declined 20 basis points to 6.5 per cent.

In Ottawa, the largest month-over-month decline was in the educational services field, which shed 3,000 jobs. A bright spot was the manufacturing industry, where companies added an additional 2,700 employees.

Nationally, the job market rebounded in August, gaining back much of the ground lost in July.

Statistics Canada said the Canadian economy created 26,200 net new jobs in the month compared with a loss of 31,200 in the previous month.

However, even with the increase in the number of jobs, the unemployment rate crept up to 7.0 per cent compared with 6.9 per cent in July as more people entered the labour force and started looking for work.

Economists had expected a gain a 15,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to hold steady at 6.9 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.

The jobs numbers have been volatile in recent months.

The overall increase in the number of jobs in August was due to a gain of 52,200 full-time jobs, nearly offsetting a loss of 71,400 full-time positions in July. The number of part-time jobs in August fell by 26,000 compared with a gain of 40,200 the previous month.

The number of jobs rose in Quebec by 22,000 in August as its unemployment rate edged up to 7.1 per cent from 7.0 per cent, while Newfoundland and Labrador gained 4,000 jobs in the month as its unemployment rate moved down to 12.3 per cent from 12.8 per cent. New Brunswick lost 3,000 jobs, with its unemployment rate dropping to 9.4 per cent from 9.7 per cent.

Statistics Canada said there was little change in the other provinces, but noted that Ontario saw an increase in its unemployment rate to 6.7 per cent from 6.4 per cent in July as more people sought work.

The number of public sector employees jumped 57,000 in August, while the number of private sector jobs increased 8,300. The number of self-employed workers slipped by 39,100.

The jobs report follows the Bank of Canada's decision earlier this week to keep its key interest rate target on hold at 0.5 per cent where it has been for more than a year.

In making its decision, the central bank raised concern about the strength of the Canadian economic recovery, noting that a drop in exports earlier this year was larger and more broad-based than expected.

However, the Bank of Canada says it still expects a “substantial rebound” in the economy in the second half of the year.

—With files from the Canadian Press