Canada suffered a sharp drop in full- time jobs, especially in manufacturing, in October, the national statistics agency announced Friday.
The country's unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent in October. Nearly 72,000 jobs that were lost belonged to full-time workers, Statistics Canada said in its monthly report.
The Canadian economy picked up 17,700 low-paying part-time jobs. However, about 48,000 manufacturing jobs and 20,000 positions in the construction industry were cut.
The Canadian dollar fell by more than 1 percent on the news, to 98.16 US cents.
The job numbers shocked policy-makers and the private sector. A total of 15,000 new jobs had been forecasted by economists, said a major bank.
Doug Porter, deputy chief economist with the BMO financial group, said in a statement, "losses of this magnitude are extremely rare, aside from recessionary periods" while Scotiabank said "the magnitude of this decline is disconcerting."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is in Cannes for the G20 summit, said he is "disappointed with the numbers and concerned about them."
"Our number one priority remains the economy, and remains economic growth and the creation of jobs. The numbers over the past two or three months have been very volatile. I think it's a reflection of the lack of confidence that has been spreading in world markets as a consequence of the European debt crisis," said Harper.
The prime minister added that "This is not by any means unique to Canada. I think every single leader of the G20 would make the same observation in terms of the effects of this on their own country."
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty also called the unemployment report "disappointing."
"We're an open trading country, and we get buffeted when things become difficult elsewhere, as they are now in Europe," Flaherty told reporters.
In Parliament, the government was criticized by opposition politicians for failing to protect Canadian workers.
"The 72,000 Canadians who lost their jobs last month know that the government has abandoned them," Opposition critic Chris Charlton said in the House of Commons.
"There are almost 300,000 more unemployed Canadians today than in July 2008 and that was just before the recession that the government could not even see coming," Charlton said.
Canadian officials had been buoyed by the net gain of 61,000 jobs in September. Instead of a second month of improving numbers, the country's economy suffered the largest single monthly drop in jobs since March, 2009.
"It's almost as if the strong Canadian dollar and weak U.S. recovery caught up with the sector in one fell swoop," Porter said.
"The magnitude and breadth of the decline is disconcerting here, " Scotiabank economist Derek Holt said of the report.
"The headline volatility from one month to the next should be dismissed, but it's the structural trends here that are disturbing, " Holt said.
Economists put some blame on the strong Canadian dollar, which has been a drag on exports. The dollar has been pushed up above par with the U.S. dollar in recent months because of Canada's strong oil and commodities sector, and by speculators who see it as a hedge against devaluation of the U.S dollar.
On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department that said the economy created about 80,000 jobs last month, close to expectations of 95, 000. The U.S. jobless rate was 9.0 percent, down from 9.1 percent in September.