After a big November job spurt, Ontario lost an estimated 16,600 jobs in December, according to Statistics Canada's labour force survey.

Ontario gained 2,000 full-time jobs but lost 18,600 part-time positions.

However, the labour force contracted slightly, which left the unemployment rate unchanged at 9.3 per cent. In October 2008, when the recession began, the unemployment rate was 6.7 per cent in Ontario.

Nationally, the December unemployment rate was 8.5 per cent, with Canada losing 2,600 jobs after analysts had expected an increase of 20,000. The national rate was 6.3 per cent in October 2008.

"While employment in Ontario edged down in December, a shift in the trend has also occurred, with the number of workers little changed (-0.4 per cent) over the last nine months of 2009," Statistics Canada wrote.

"This contrasts with substantial employment losses totalling 171,000 (-2.5 per cent) from October 2008 to March 2009, as manufacturing employment fell steeply over this period."

TD Economics added: "While the job loss in Ontario (-17K) was disappointing, it came on the heels of unexpectedly strong job creation (+27K) in November. Ontario employment was essentially flat on a monthly average basis in the last quarter of 2009."

Ontario is currently 195,400 jobs below its peak employment in October 2008. Canada as a whole is 323,000 jobs below its peak. Ontario represents 60 per cent of Canada's job losses but only about 40 per cent of its population.

Danielle Zeitsma, a senior economist with Statistics Canada, told that 16,600 jobs lost, while disappointing, has to be looked at in the context of Ontario's more than 6.5 million jobs.

Most of the losses occurred in the public sector, with 22,000 jobs disappearing. The private sector didn't significantly change, rising by 4,000. Self-employment rose 15,000, which Zeitsma said isn't a statistically significant increase.

For the most part, the changes in the various sectors didn't engage in statistically significant movement, she said.

And compared to the sharp losses of a year ago, things have stabilized considerably, she said.

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

  • Toronto - 9.5 (9.5)
  • Hamilton - 8.5 (8.0)
  • Kingston - 5.4 (6.2)
  • Kitchener - 9.5 (9.1)
  • London - 9.0 (9.9)
  • Oshawa - 9.8 (9.2)
  • Ottawa - 6.1 (5.3)
  • St. Catharines-Niagara -10.8 (10.4)
  • Windsor - 13.3 (13.5)

With files from The Canadian Press