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The Globe and Mail

Canadian hiring sees modest rebound, overall trend still soft

Hundreds line up for various booths at the The National Job Fair & Training Expo at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 2012.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

The Canadian economy created 34,300 jobs last month as a rebound in part-time positions offset a steep drop in the construction sector.

The country's unemployment rate stayed at 7.3 per cent in August , Statistics Canada said Friday. Last month's job growth follows a surprise drop of 30,400 jobs in July.

Friday's report paints a picture of a soft labour market. Job creation has essentially stalled over the past four months after a strong spring, while the unemployment rate is unchanged from a year ago. And industries that tend to move in sync with economic cycles -- construction and manufacturing -- shed jobs last month.

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"The details of the report warrant caution about the real economic picture in Canada," said Krishen Rangasamy, chief economist at National Bank Financial, in a note to clients.

Job creation in the first eight months of the year is weaker than the same period of 2011, while private-sector hiring has also been softer, he noted.

In August, employers shed 12,500 full-time positions last month and added 46,700 jobs.

Among provinces, employment rose in Quebec, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. It dwindled in Ontario and Prince Edward Island and was little changed elsewhere. Among cities, Regina has the country's lowest jobless rate, at 4.2 per cent, and Windsor has the highest, at 9.2 per cent.

The transportation and warehousing sector added to headcount last month, along with professional and scientific services and natural resources. Construction firms cut 44,000 jobs -- the biggest monthly drop since 2008.

Young people are still struggling in the labour market. Canada's youth jobless rate jumped to 14.8 per cent in August from 14.3 per cent.

Older workers, meantime, landed jobs last month. The jobless rate for women over the age of 55 tumbled to 5.2 per cent from 6.1 per cent, while it stands at 5.9 per cent for older men.

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All told, employers have created on average about 20,000 jobs a month this year, the equivalent of 1-per-cent employment growth. That's consistent with the modest 2-per-cent pace of economic growth over the last three quarters, noted Francis Fong, economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank.

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