Fewer Canadians were drawing a paycheque in September, during a month in which the economy did not perform as expected and fewer people went looking for work.

Statistics Canada released new job figures Friday showing that employment dropped by 6,600 last month, though the unemployment rate receded slightly to 8 per cent.

The results were far from the 10,000-job increase that economists had predicted and marked the second time in three months where jobs were in decline after a booming first half of 2010.

"The labour market boom is over," said CIBC economist Krishen Rangasamy.

"If you look at the last three months, there's definitely a trend. And if you look at what we're interested in, the private sector and full-time hiring, both categories are actually down," Rangasamy said.

The new job figures come less than two weeks before the Bank of Canada will decide whether to raise interest rates. But Rangasamy said the central bank is unlikely to increase rates at this time.

"Inflation and growth have been below their estimates, and now you have employment showing sings of serious deceleration," Rangasamy said. "Putting it together, it's hard to justify a rate hike in October."

The Canadian economy is also facing other challenges in the forms of a depressed U.S. economy that is not buying many export products and a high-level of stimulus from Ottawa that is quickly coming to an end.

"Renewed solid job gains will be tough to come by in the months ahead amid the lacklustre pace of underlying growth that has spilled over from the U.S. into Canada," said Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist with BMO Capital Markets.

September data

StatsCan reported that Canada saw a decline of nearly 44,000 jobs in part-time employment, a trend that was offset by a gain of 37,000 full-time positions. However, hours worked were up overall.

"With gains in actual hours worked and full-time positions registered in the month, the September report was somewhat better than that implied by the decline in the headline job count," said TD's deputy chief economist Derek Burleton.

Across the country, there were a few provinces that saw gains in the number of available jobs in September.

Quebec saw an increase of more than 15,000 jobs, which pushed its provincial unemployment rate down to 7.7 per cent, a half-per cent below the previous month.

Newfoundland and Labrador added 4,900 jobs, which dropped its unemployment rate to 13.5 cent -- the lowest rate in more than two years.

In Nova Scotia, the unemployment rate was 9.0 per cent, almost a full percentage point below the previous month. Employment in the province increased by 3,500 positions in September.

The unemployment rate dropped by 0.2 per cent in Manitoba to 5.4 per cent, after about 2,100 jobs were added, and in Alberta it dropped 0.3 per cent to 6.2 per cent, with an increase of about 300 jobs.

Of the provinces where the unemployment rate increased or stayed the same, Ontario lost the most jobs.

StatsCan says that Ontario lost nearly 23,000 jobs in September, though the employment rate remained unchanged at 8.8 per cent as fewer people -- particularly youth -- sought jobs.

After shedding 4,600 jobs, Saskatchewan's unemployment rate increased 0.7 per cent to hit 5.5 per cent, while British Columbia's unemployment rate stood at 7.5 per cent in September, an increase of 0.2 per cent. The B.C. economy had 300 fewer jobs available than the month before.

In Prince Edward Island, the unemployment rate jumped 2.4 per cent to 13.6 per cent, after employment dropped by 2,200.

In nearby New Brunswick, the unemployment rate climbed 0.2 to 9.8 per cent. Employment decreased by 2,500.

With files from The Canadian Press