This April 22, 2014, file photo shows an employment application form on a table at a job fair in Hudson, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

The City of Guelph saw its unemployment rate rise in the month of January, while Waterloo Region held steady.

Statistics Canada released its unemployment rates Friday, cautioning, however, that the figures may fluctuate widely because they are based on small statistical samples.

Guelph saw its unemployment rate rise to 6.3 per cent in January, from 5.6 per cent in December.

In Waterloo Region, the rate had little movement, going down to 8.3 per cent in January compared to 8.4 per cent in December.

Statistics Canada says the economy lost almost 213,000 jobs in January as employment fell to the lowest level since August last year, wiping out the gains made in the fall.

The unemployment rate rose 0.6 percentage points to 9.4 per cent, the highest rate since August.

Financial data firm Refinitiv says the average economist estimate was for a loss of 47,500 jobs in January and an unemployment rate of 8.9 per cent.

The losses were almost entirely concentrated in Ontario and Quebec, and mostly in the retail sector as lockdowns and restrictions closed many businesses.

Statistics Canada says the losses in January now put the country 858,300 jobs, or 4.5 per cent, short of employment levels from last February just before the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Losses in January marked a second straight month that the labour market contracted after 63,000 positions disappeared in December to break a streak of monthly gains that began in May 2020.

January's employment figures show the "continuing challenge of balancing economic activity with the need to protect public health," Statistics Canada notes in the report, and how restrictions hit specific sectors and groups of workers harder than others.

With files from the Canadian Press