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Data revisions show less rosy jobs recovery

Canada's economy has not yet recovered all the jobs lost during the recession, according to data revisions that paint a slightly less upbeat picture of the jobs market than did the original estimates.

Statistics Canada released revisions to employment figures going back to 1996 on Friday. They show bigger job gains in December than previously reported, but fewer jobs created overall during the economic recovery.

The federal agency revised its labour force survey estimates to reflect the 2006 population census as well as updated geographical and job classification definitions.

The revisions now show that the economy added 30,400 jobs in December rather than the 22,000 originally reported, a Statscan analyst said. The jobless rate was unchanged at 7.6 percent.

In its release, Statscan said overall trends in the labour market during the 2009 recession and subsequent recovery remain unchanged.

However, the economy now appears to have lost more jobs during the downturn and to have gained fewer since recovery began. Overall 30,000 fewer people had work in December 2010 than at the pre-recession employment peak in October 2008. Previously Statscan had reported employment levels fully recovering to slightly above October 2008 levels.

Statscan said the economy lost 428,000 jobs, a decline of 2.5 percent, between the October 2008 peak and July 2009, when the job market hit bottom. That compares with original estimates of 417,000 positions lost, a decline of 2.4 percent.

During the upturn in the job market from July 2009 to December 2010, job gains are now seen at 398,000, or 2.4 percent, versus the unrevised 463,000, or 2.8 percent gain.

"The new estimates of employment are slightly lower overall due to the lower population estimates," the agency said. "Despite the slightly lower levels, however, the new (revised) and old (unrevised) employment estimates track closely, following the same trends."

Derek Holt, economist at Scotia Capital, said the revisions change little in the overall employment outlook for Canada.

"On an average monthly basis that's an average downward monthly revision of only 2,800 jobs," he wrote in a note.

The new estimates also show that 2010 employment growth was slightly slower than previously thought.

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