Canada's unemployment rate dropped to a two-year low in November, as fewer youth sought employment in an economy that isn't hiring them.

The latest job numbers put Canada's unemployment rate at 7.6 per cent, which Statistics Canada said was its lowest level in two years. The statistics agency said the economy had created 15,200 jobs during the same month.

But the decrease in unemployment was weighed down by the fact that 43,600 Canadians left the labour market and most of them were young people who had stopped looking for work.

StatsCan said the participation rate among youth aged 15 to 24 dropped to 63.2 per cent, the lowest since August 1999. That's down from 64.1 per cent last month.

Carleton University business professor Ian Lee said young people typically have trouble finding employment in recession and post-recession periods.

"Young people don't have the experience, they don't have the network and the contacts and so they have much higher unemployment rates," Lee said.

With time, however, they tend to "gradually work their way into the workforce," he told CTV News Channel.

David Madani of Capital Economics predicted that the unemployment rate could rise in recent months as economic growth slows in Canada.

"The dramatic slowdown in economic growth is preventing any real improvement in labour market conditions," Madani said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"Not only is the economy struggling to generate enough jobs to have a meaningful impact on reducing the unemployment rate, it is also struggling to produce high-paying, full-time private sector employment, which must be a tad disconcerting for the Bank of Canada."

Part-time jobs lead the way

The latest job numbers from Statistics Canada also showed that the November job gains were powered by part-time opportunities: part-time work rose by 26,700 jobs while full-time work fell by 11,500 positions.

The exception was Ontario. Canada's most populous province picked up a healthy 31,200 jobs, which pushed its unemployment rate down to 8.2 per cent, the lowest since January 2009. But employment fell in Quebec and Manitoba. Elsewhere, it changed little.

Nationwide, the country saw employment gains in health care and social assistance, with job gains of 28,000 in those sectors. The retail and wholesale trade also saw gains in November, as did the accommodation and food services industries.

However, there were 28,600 job losses in manufacturing, reducing its share of total employment to 10 per cent, the lowest in figures dating back to 1976, Statistics Canada said. That's down from 15 per cent in the early 2000s and 19 per cent in 1976.

There were also losses in finance, insurance, real estate and leasing.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the unemployment rate climbed to 9.8 per cent in November -- a new seven-month high -- the U.S. Labor Department reported Friday.

The jobless rate south of the border has now been over 9.0 per cent for 19 straight months, the longest stretch on record.

Gary Rabbior, president of the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education, said economic problems south of the border and overseas are hampering the economic recovery in Canada.

"Right now you've got a weaker than usual U.S. economy and great uncertainty still in Europe. And on that basis employers are not hiring back the way they may normally have, because everybody's so skittish," he told CTV's Power Play.

"So I think the numbers are almost in line with what one might expect right about now," he said. "Until the U.S. economy, for a number of reasons and on a number of fronts, is able to restabilize and get back on a stronger growth path, Canada will struggle with its economy."

With files from The Canadian Press

Here's what happened provincially (previous month in brackets):

  • Newfoundland 13.8 (13.0)
  • Prince Edward Island 12.5 (12.9)
  • Nova Scotia 9.6 (8.9)
  • New Brunswick 10.3 (9.8)
  • Quebec 7.9 (8.0)
  • Ontario 8.2 (8.6)
  • Manitoba 5.1 (5.2)
  • Saskatchewan 5.5 (5.7)
  • Alberta 5.6 (6.0)
  • British Columbia 6.9 (7.4)