Greater Sudbury shed about 200 jobs last month, but a drop in the size of the labour force meant the city's jobless rate actually declined slightly.
The official unemployment rate was 6.8 per cent in December, down from 6.9 per cent the previous month. Job losses were offset by a comparable loss in the number of people looking for work, which dipped to 89,400 last month, compared to 89,600 in November.
Because of the relatively small sample size, StatsCan says the rate is an estimate that indicates labour trends, rather than exact jobless figures, particularly when it comes to individual cities. So the actual unemployment rate in Greater Sudbury could be as low as 6.1 per cent or as high as 7.5 per cent.
However, the trend in local employment matched a slight decline reported in national numbers, which found that about 46,000 jobs were lost in December, mainly in full-time work. The rate for Canada as a whole rose by 0.3 per cent, rising to 7.2 per cent as more people searched for work.
For the year as a whole, employment gains in 2013 amounted to 102,000 jobs or 0.6 per cent. Employment growth averaged 8,500 per month in 2013, compared with 25,900 in 2012.
Provincially, employment in December declined in Ontario and Alberta, while it increased in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador. In Ontario, employment fell by 39,000 in December, pushing the unemployment rate up 0.7 percentage points to 7.9 per cent.
Nationally, there were fewer people working in education, agriculture and natural resources. At the same time, employment increased in health care and social assistance.
In December, StatsCan reported self-employment declined, while there was little change in the rate among public-sector and private-sector employees. Compared with a year earlier, all employment gains were among private-sector employees. Fewer men and women aged 25 to 54 were employed in December, while employment increased among women aged 55 and older.
In December, 19,000 fewer people worked in education, offsetting an increase over the previous two months. There were 15,000 fewer people employed in the “other services” industry, which includes such industries as personal care services, as well as civic and social organizations. Employment also declined in agriculture -- down 9,800 -- and in natural resources, down 8,000.
Health care and social assistance were the only industries with employment gains in December, increasing by 22,000.
Overall, employment gains in 2013 was the slowest December-to-December growth rate since 2009. In 2012, growth was 310,000 or 1.8 per cent in the 12-month period.
In Ontario, employment gains in the first half of the year were offset by the decline in December, leaving employment little changed compared with a year earlier. After trending down throughout most of 2013, the unemployment rate increased to 7.9 per cent in December, the same rate as December 2012.
In 2013, the only industries with employment growth were professional, scientific and technical services (up by 6.7 per cent) and natural resources (up by 5.7 per cent). At the same time, there were losses in agriculture (down by 4.5 per cent), educational services (-down by 3.3 per cent), public administration (down by 3.1 per cent) and manufacturing (down by 2.3 per cent).
Compared with 12 months earlier, part-time employment grew by 83,000 or 2.5 per cent, while full-time employment was relatively unchanged. During the same period, the number of hours worked increased by 0.7 per cent.
Among the major demographic groups, only men and women aged 55 and older posted employment growth in 2013, up 4.8 per cent, mostly the result of population aging.
This segment of the labour force has seen increases in its labour-market participation rate since the mid-1990s, reaching 37.4 per cent in December 2013.
Following a high in December 2012, employment among men aged 25 to 54 declined by 41,000 in December 2013. There was little change in employment among women in the same age group over the same period.
For people aged 15 to 24, both employment and the unemployment rate were little changed compared with December 2012.