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Canada sees drop in full-time jobs in July, 35,400 stop looking for work

A fishing boat heads to dock in Eastern Passage, N.S. on Oct. 2, 2013. Statistics Canada says the country's unemployment rate fell to 7.0 per cent in July, from 7.1 per cent the previous month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

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A fishing boat heads to dock in Eastern Passage, N.S. on Oct. 2, 2013. Statistics Canada says the country's unemployment rate fell to 7.0 per cent in July, from 7.1 per cent the previous month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

OTTAWA - Trouble in Canada's anemic jobs market continued into July as a paltry 200 jobs were added during the month, falling spectacularly short of expectations.

Economists thought the economy would bounce back from the unexpected 9,400-job decline in June, and add around 20,000 new jobs in July.

But Statistics Canada came out with a much lower figure Friday. Between June and July, the number of full-time jobs fell by 59,700 while part-time jobs increased by 60,000.

Even a slight dip in the unemployment rate came with a big asterix. Statistics Canada reported the jobless rate fell one-tenth of a point to 7.0 per cent for the month — but only because 35,400 people stopped looking for work.

The participation rate, the percentage of working-age people with jobs or looking for work, declined to 65.9 per cent from 66.1 per cent in June. That's the lowest it's been since late 2001, BMO senior economist Benjamin Reitzes noted in a report.

Canada's job numbers have been unpredictable of late, Finance Minister Joe Oliver acknowledged during a news conference in Toronto.

"Each monthly number is turning out to be fairly volatile," he said. "This month there were more part-time jobs created, last month it was the reverse, the previous month it was a reverse of that."

Over the past 12 months, the economy has added 115,300 new jobs — or 0.7 per cent of the labour force — with all the growth in part-time work.

"Canada is rapidly becoming a nation of part-timers," said Paul Ashworth, chief North American economist at Capital Economics in Toronto.

"Over the past 12 months, full-time employment has actually declined by a cumulative 3,100, while part-time employment has increased by 118,500."

New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen, the party's finance critic, focused on the low participation rate.

"These anemic job numbers are alarming. Not only have no full-time jobs been created on balance over the last year, but Canadians are now quitting the labour market in record numbers," he said in an emailed statement.

"How does this government explain a labour force participation rate at its lowest level in 13 years? Canadians have been looking for quality, decent-paying jobs, and now far too many are being forced to give up."

Most of the month's job losses came in construction, health care and social assistance. However, employment in educational services and in information, culture and recreation rose in July.

The majority of new jobs were concentrated among people between the ages of 15 and 24, Statistics Canada says, while there were losses among people aged 55 and older.

Regionally, Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba were the only provinces to show job growth, while employment fell in New Brunswick. The rest of the provinces remained mostly unchanged.

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