A big drop in the number of jobs created in Quebec last year is a sign the economy is finally recovering, according to a report by Statistics Canada.
The numbers released Wednesday provide a stark reminder that the province is still struggling to regain its pre-recession growth rate and is facing a steep challenge in finding enough jobs to meet rising population growth.
The number of full-time jobs in the province, which has one of the lowest jobless rates in the country, fell by nearly 2,400 in the year ending in March.
That compares with the 6,300 jobs created the year before.
The province also added fewer full-timers to the workforce than the previous year, with fewer fulltime jobs created than the month before.
That is a stark contrast to the gains in the other provinces, which have seen a surge in the numbers of people joining the labour force since the start of the year.
The jobs report, which tracks people employed in various occupations, shows Quebec gained more than 1,600 jobs in March, the highest number in more than three years.
It was the second straight month of growth in employment, but also the fourth consecutive month of losses in employment.
The new jobs numbers also come as Premier Philippe Couillard’s government continues to battle the effects of the Zika virus outbreak in Quebec.
On Monday, Couillard announced the province will spend $1.4 million to combat the virus and a federal government initiative is expected to begin soon to help Quebecans deal with the virus.
Quebec has recorded a record-high number of cases of Zika, with the province reporting more than 100,000 cases.
The province’s health ministry says that figure is up from more than 130,000 in December.
In a separate report, Statistics Canada said the number a year ago of Quebecers working part-time grew by nearly 1,100.
The fall in full- and part-timing jobs also comes as unemployment in Quebec is still hovering around 7 per cent.
In its latest unemployment report, the province said in March that the unemployment rate for Quebecers was 7.5 per cent, down from 8.4 per cent in the previous month.
Statistics Canada says Quebecers are working part time for the first time in more years than they were in 2013, when the province’s unemployment rate was 9.3 per cent and it saw a total of 8,879 people work part- time.