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Canada loses a million jobs in March as coronavirus hammers labour market

- Reuters


OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada lost a record-breaking one million jobs in March while the unemployment rate soared to 7.8%, official data showed on Thursday, as the coronavirus outbreak forced the closure of non-essential businesses.

Statistics Canada said the data did not fully capture the extent of the job losses since the agency polled respondents before the crisis began to take its full toll. Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a loss of 350,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 7.2%, up from the 5.6% seen in February.

More than 4.26 million Canadians had applied for all forms of federal emergency unemployment help since March 15, government data showed on Wednesday, suggesting the real jobless rate is closer to 25%.

The job loss was the largest drop in a single month going all the way back to January 1976, when Statscan adopted the current model for gauging the health of the labor force. The previous record was the 125,000 jobs lost in January 2009.

The highest unemployment rate in the same data period was the 13.1% seen in December 1982.

(Reporting by Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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