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Jobless rate holds steady

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TORONTO—Canada’s economy added about 6,600 jobs last month—essentially reversing a similar decline in June but having too little effect to change a national unemployment rate that has been stuck at 6.8 percent for six months in a row.

Statistics Canada’s monthly job report provides a fresh reading on an important economic indicator, as well as fuel for an ongoing debate in political and business circles about whether the country fell into a recession in the first half of this year.

Although there seems to be undeniable evidence the economy shrank in the first quarter, and probably the second quarter, the Statistics Canada monthly jobs report released today paints a more complicated picture.

The six-month trend “isn’t yet pointing to Canada being in recession” because there have been 11,000 jobs added over a period that included a major downturn in the oil and gas sector, said CIBC World Markets economist Nick Exarhos.

“Indeed, the provincial breakdown highlights the narrow hit that the oil shock has had, with Saskatchewan and Alberta reporting employment declines in July while Quebec posted a healthy gain,” Exarhos said in a brief commentary.

Randall Bartlett, a senior economist with the Toronto-Dominion Bank group, said the monthly labour force survey “has missed the mark” lately.

He pointed to an earlier report that 60,000 jobs were created in May—even though the economy shrank by 0.2 percent overall in a downturn affecting 13 of 20 major industries.

“The decline in jobs in accommodation and food services in Ontario during the hosting of the Pan Am Games [July 10-24] also seems highly questionable,” Bartlett said in a note to clients.

“This said, we use employment from the LFS in our early tracking of the Canadian economy, and today’s release has not moved the needle materially,” he added.

There were 17,300 fewer Canadians with full-time jobs in July compared with June, but 23,900 more who had part-time employment, Statistics Canada said.

There also was an additional 41,000 people more people who were self-employed in July.

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