The national unemployment rate crept up to 7.3% last month for the first time in three years amid flat overall job growth, Statistics Canada said Friday.
The jobless rate increased by 0.1% for the third month in a row, the agency’s latest labour force survey found.
The report says the country lost 2,300 net jobs in February compared to the previous month, though the agency deemed that figure statistically insignificant.
A consensus of economists had been predicting the country to add 9,000 net jobs and for the unemployment rate to stay at 7.2%, according to Thomson Reuters.
The number of net full-time positions fell by 51,800, while less-desirable part-time jobs increased by 49,500.
By sector, the agency said the net number of jobs in natural resources fell by 8,900 last month compared to January.
Services industries, meanwhile, lost 44,500 positions last month following declines in categories such as education and health care and social assistance.
“The 7.3% unemployment rate is only likely to edge higher in the months ahead,” writes CIBC economist Nick Exharos in a note to investors. “The provincial breakdown continues to highlight how the blow from oil continues to have very acute effects on Western Canada.”
The report found that Saskatchewan was among the hardest hit provinces, losing 7,800 jobs compared to the previous month and seeing its unemployment rate climb 0.3 percentage points to 5.9%.
Alberta, which has suffered from the oil-price slump, saw its unemployment rate rise from 7.4% to 7.9%. Compared to a year earlier, employment in the province decreased 21,200 net positions or 0.9%, including a drop of 56,300 full-time jobs or 2.9%.
New Brunswick lost 5,700 net positions last month and saw its jobless rate move up to 9.9%.
The data also showed that self-employed positions across Canada increased by 3,000 last month, while the net number of employee jobs fell by 5,300.
The number of private-sector jobs rose by 15,200, while public-sector positions declined by 20,400.
The country’s youth unemployment rate climbed to 13.% last month, from 13% in January.