Ontario gained nearly 51,000 full-time jobs in July, something offset by the loss of 37,000 part-time ones, according to figures released Friday by Statistics Canada.

However, the net effect was to push the province's unemployment rated to 9.3 per cent from 9.6 per cent -- the first improvement in the unemployment rate in 12 months, according to TD Bank economist Pascal Gauthier.

In June, Ontario lost more than 56,000 full-time jobs and gained more than 57,000 part-time ones.

Nationally, the unemployment rate of 8.6 per cent remained unchanged from June to July. That figure represents the highest national unemployment rate in 11 years.

However, Canada did lose a total of 45,000 jobs across the nation, with the construction, accommodation and food services industries particularly hard-hit.

In June, the figure had been 7,400. Analysts didn't expect such a dramatic change downward.

Quebec bore the brunt of losses, but there were also losses in Saskatchewan, along with Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Employment in Ontario edged up in July as continued declines in construction were more than offset by gains in the services sector," the report said.

However, since the recession began in October 2008, Ontario has seen employment decrease by 3.3 per cent, compared to a national rate of 2.4 per cent.

Manufacturing is a major part of Ontario's economy. Statistics Canada said that manufacturing employment changed little in July, but dropped by 218,000 jobs nationally since the recession started. That represents a decrease of 11.1 per cent.

"The goods-producing sector in Ontario continues to weaken, but the service sector has picked up some of the slack," wrote TD Bank economist Diana Petramala in a commentary.

The goods-producing sector includes industries such as construction, agriculture, forestry and manufacturing. While the overall sector declined by 15,000 jobs, Petramala said manufacturing in Ontario only accounted for 100 jobs lost in July.

Here are the selected unemployment rates for major Ontario cities (the June rate is in brackets):

  • Toronto - 10.0 (9.6)
  • Hamilton - 8.2 (7.1)
  • Kingston - 7.2 (6.6)
  • Kitchener - 9.9 (9.9)
  • London - 10.6 (10.4)
  • Oshawa - 9.7 (8.7)
  • Ottawa - 6.0 (6.4)
  • St. Catharines-Niagara - 10.5 (10.9)
  • Thunder Bay - 8.5 (8.8)
  • Windsor - 15.2 (14.4)

Some economists have suggested the recession has reached bottom and that the economy will start growing again.

Petramala cautioned that even once positive economic growth resumes, it will take six months for employment growth to catch up -- and that jobs recovery tends to happen more slowly than overall economic recovery.

With files from The Canadian Press