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Unemployment rate 4.5% in Brandon

The unemployment rate in Brandon stood at 4.5 per cent in February, according to Statistics Canada data provided by Economic Development Brandon.

That's down very slightly from the 4.9 per cent that was recorded in February a year ago, and is the lowest February unemployment rate recorded since 2011.

However, the rate in February was higher than the January unemployment rate, which was recorded at 3.7 per cent.

Provincially, the Manitoba economy had net loss of 1,700 jobs in February but the provincial unemployment rate still dropped to 5.3 per cent due to the exodus of 4,300 workers from the labour force, Statistics Canada said yesterday.

In its monthly labour force report, the agency said that while the Manitoba economy created 4,100 new part-time jobs in February, it also shed 5,700 full-time positions, for a net loss of 1,700 jobs (rounded off).

The job losses left 666,500 Manitobans employed in February, compared with 670,800 in January. February’s employment total was also down 5,500 from a year earlier.

But with so many people dropping out of the labour force, the number of unemployed workers in the province fell by 2,600 to 35,100 from 37,700 in January.

Nationally, Canada’s jobs market continues to sputter as the economy gave back some of January’s gains by shedding 7,000 workers overall in February, a disappointment to those hoping for a strong start to the year.

The loss was tiny in relative terms and insufficient to alter the 7.0 per cent unemployment rate.

But after last week’s news of stronger fourth quarter economic growth than forecasted, and an encouraging 29,000 employment increase in January, economists had expected that February would also see gains in the order of about 15,000 jobs.

The setback in February continues a pattern of up and down months in the Canadian labour market, which has been virtually stalled since last August.

While the last 12 months has seen a pick-up of 95,000 workers — a weak number — Statistics Canada notes that "there has been little overall employment growth in Canada since August 2013."

The softness was reflected in the employment rate, which held steady at 61.6 per cent, still about two percentage points below the pre-recession highs.

There were 15,500 fewer people classified as employees but 8,600 more people became self-employed.

There were some bright spots in the employment report, which is one of the most important barometers of how the economy is doing.

Despite the overall loss of jobs as 25,900 fewer people were in part-time work, as full-time employment rose by 18,900.

As well, the weakness came in the public sector, as declines in health care and social assistance, education services as well as transportation and warehousing contributed to a 51,000 dip in the labour pool. Private sector employment rose by 35,200.

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