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Canada loses 7,200 jobs in March, unemployment holds steady

(REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

The winning streak has come to an end for Canada’s job market with a surprising small loss of 7,200 jobs in March. Economists expected a gain of around 10,000 jobs.

The unemployment rate holds steady at 5.8 per cent.

“The party had to end at some point, since Canadian jobs data had outrun other signposts of economic growth so dramatically, making the small retreat in employment in March not much of a surprise,” said Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at CIBC Capital Markets, in a research note.

(Statistics Canada)

Most of the jobs lost were full-time. The 6,400 loss is the first decline in full-time positions since December.

“There's nothing great about this report, but first quarter hiring still looks very brisk, if anything still too brisk for an economy that's likely chugging along at a 1% to 1.5% growth rate,” said Shenfeld.

Wage growth ticked up slightly but remains at 2.3 per cent.

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“While a moderate disappointment, today’s soft jobs report must be put in the context of the powerful gains seen in the prior six months,” said Doug Porter, Chief economist at BMO, in a research note.

“And, just as no one was revising up their growth forecasts amid the jobs boom around the turn of the year—quite the contrary in fact—few will be trimming their growth forecasts as a result of one low-side jobs reading.”

Porter says the report won’t do much to change the Bank of Canada’s outlook for interest rates.

The March employment data from Statistics Canada follows the best two-month stretch since 2012.

The February report blew past economists’ expectations by adding 56,000 jobs.

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