By Stephen Bornais – The Daily News

Halifax – Nova Scotia’s unemployment rate rose in November, but the reasons hold promise for the provincial economy, a Statistics Canada official said yesterday.

The federal agency reported the province’s unemployment rate last month rose to 10.1 per cent, up from October’s 9.5. That bucked the national trend, in which the rate fell slightly to 7.5.

It also ran against what was happening in metro, where the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 from last month’s 7.2.

Vincent Ferrao, a labour force analyst with the agency, said the provincial economy actually added 6,000 jobs — most of them part-time — in November, while losing another 3,000, a net gain of 3,000.

But more importantly, another 6,300 people joined the workforce, driving up the participation rate — the percentage of adults either working or looking for work — as well as the unemployment rate.

“That’s a pretty significant number,” he said.

Halifax added about 1,000 new jobs, while the workforce number remained the same.

The fact that more people have entered the workforce is a positive sign for the province, said Brian Lee Crowley, president of the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies.

“When you see a big swing of people into the workforce, it almost always means people think their chances of getting a job have increased,” he said. “That sort of thing is much more encouraging than a bunch of economists sitting in office towers saying, ‘We think the economy’s performing better.”‘

While Sunday shopping began in November, Ferrao said its impact was negligible, given the tiny growth in retail-sector employment.

Instead, job growth was spread across several sectors, such as construction and education services.

It doesn’t matter if those new jobs are part-time, said Crowley.

“Being in a job is always better than not being in a job,” he said.

Halifax was well ahead of the region’s two other largest cities. St. John’s, Nfld., saw its rate rise to 9.8 per cent, while Saint John, N.B., saw a slight dip.

Edmonton lead the country with an unemployment rate of 4.7.