Economy adds 31,800 jobs in June, unemployment rate rises to 6.0%

OTTAWA — A healthy gain of 31,800 jobs last month wasn’t enough to keep the country’s unemployment rate from rising to six per cent as more people searched for work, Statistics Canada said Friday.

The agency’s latest labour force survey shows the jobless rate for June increased from 5.8 per cent in May to break the six per cent barrier for the first time since last October, when it was 6.2.

The unemployment rate moved up last month despite the addition of new jobs because nearly 76,000 more people entered the workforce.

The report also found that average hourly wage growth, which is closely watched by the Bank of Canada, remained strong last month at 3.6 per cent. The number, however, did come down from its nine-year high in May of 3.9 per cent.

The latest jobs figures arrived less than a week before the Bank of Canada’s next interest-rate decision.

Expectations have strengthened that governor Stephen Poloz will raise the benchmark for the first time since January. Experts predict the move even though the economy is facing significant uncertainty from Canada’s intensifying trade dispute with the United States as well as growing fears of a global trade war.

Compared with a year earlier, overall employment was up 1.2 per cent following the creation of 214,900 jobs, which was driven by 284,100 new full-time positions.

A closer look at the June numbers shows Canada added 9,100 full-time jobs in June and 22,700 part-time positions. The public sector gained 11,800 jobs and the private sector lost 2,000.

The goods-producing sector added 46,600 positions in June thanks to job-creation boosts in construction, natural resources and manufacturing.

Services sectors, meanwhile, lost 14,700 jobs mostly because of big decreases in accommodation and food services positions as well as wholesale and trade.

Ontario added 34,900 jobs for an increase of 0.5 per cent compared with the previous month, while Saskatchewan posted its largest monthly gain in over six years with the creation of 8,300 positions, which represented 1.5 per cent growth.

Youth unemployment increased to 11.7 per cent last month, up from 11.1 in May.

In a separate report Friday, Statistics Canada said the country’s merchandise trade deficit with the world widened in May to nearly $2.8 billion. The international trade deficit was about $1.9 billion in April and $3.9 billion in March.

The May numbers show that imports expanded 1.7 per cent, while exports dipped 0.1 per cent.

Higher imports in May of aircraft, other transportation equipment and energy products fuelled most of the increase. The figure for aircraft imports more than tripled to $937 million due to the purchase of several air liners from the U.S.

Exports declined mostly because of weaker trade on motor vehicles and parts as well as metal ores and non-metallic minerals.

The report showed that Canada’s trade surplus with the U.S. narrowed to $3.3 billion in May, from $3.7 billion April, as more imports headed north across the border and south-bound exports decreased.

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