Premier Dalton McGuinty tried to put the best face on unemployment figures released Friday showing Ontario lost 22,400 jobs last month, a figure the opposition called “catastrophic.”
Unemployment has actually come down in Ontario, from 7.7 per cent to 7.5 per cent, despite the big loss of jobs, said McGuinty.
“It's kind of interesting to see how these numbers translate when the unemployment level has actually dropped in Ontario I think by couple tenths of a point, which is good news,” he said.
Speaking at a Toyota plant in Woodstock, McGuinty said it was a good sign that Ontario created a lot of private sector jobs in July even though it lost some public sector jobs.
“I think the most important thing from the perspective of public confidence is to know that the private sector is taking the baton ... to help generate economic growth,” he said. “We created more jobs in June than the rest of Canada and the United States combined, so we're going in the right direction. We're on the right track.”
Ontario's Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats blamed the job losses squarely on McGuinty and his Liberal government.
“The job numbers aren't disappointing, they're catastrophic,” said NDP critic Peter Kormos. “The Liberals and Mr. McGuinty and the Conservatives and Mr. Hudak both believe that cutting corporate taxes creates jobs. Well, clearly they don't.”
McGuinty is the “No. 1 job killer” in Ontario, said the Progressive Conservatives.
“For 55 months, Ontario has led, gone ahead of the national average in unemployment,” said PC candidate Rocco Rossi. “That is an absolutely dismal record and it's precisely why Ontario families will want to choose positive change on Oct. 6.”
Statistics Canada said the national unemployment rate fell to 7.2 per cent in July, and while there were 25,500 more full-time workers nationally, there were 18,400 fewer part-time workers.
Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador posted job gains in July, while only Ontario saw significant losses.
While the number of net jobs created was lower than predicted, the unemployment rate came it pretty much as economists had forecast.
The unemployment rate in the United States fell to 9.1 per cent last month from 9.2 per cent in June. American employers added 117,000 jobs in July, an improvement from the past two months.
While stronger than expected, the U.S. job numbers were not enough to settle the frayed nerves of jittery investors on stock markets Friday.