Canada's jobless rate jumped to its highest level in seven years in March, extending a trend of rising unemployment, according to data released Thursday by Statistics Canada.

Employment declined by 61,000 in March, all in full-time work. This decrease pushed the unemployment rate up 0.3 percentage points to 8.0%.

Since peaking in October 2008, employment has fallen each month, with net losses totaling 357,000 (-2.1%). In percentage terms, this is the largest decline over a five-month period since the 1982 recession.

Since October, full-time employment has declined by 2.8% (-387,000) while part-time has edged up 0.9% (+30,000).

Losses in March were widespread across a number of industries, most notably in manufacturing; finance, insurance, real estate and leasing; construction; and natural resources. These losses were only partially offset by gains in other services; and business, building and other support services.

March's employment losses were spread among core-aged men (25 to 54), youths (15 to 24), and women 55 and over. Since the start of the downturn in October, employment has fallen by 3.1% for core-aged men, the largest five-month loss in 33 years.

In March, the increase in average hourly wages was 4.3% compared with 12 months earlier.

Employment in manufacturing fell by 34,000 in March. Of the major industry groups, manufacturing has lost the most workers since October (-134,000, or -6.8%). These losses were concentrated in the manufacturing of fabricated and primary metal; motor vehicle, body, and parts; and wood products.

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