Canada's unemployment rate rose to its highest level in 3 1/2 years in November as manufacturing jobs withered in the face of recession, a government agency reported Friday.

Statistics Canada said unemployment rose to 9.1 percent in November from 8.8 percent in October, continuing a sharp upward trend since the spring.Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, under immediate attack in the House of Commons from opposition parties, pledged to work for lower interest rates to kickstart Canada's stalled economy.

"We are going through a period, along with others, of economic difficulty, we recognize that," Mulroney told the House. "And we are seeking to bring about lower interest rates to re-energize the economy to make sure we go through another period of impressive economic growth."

After seven years of expansion, the government reported last week that the Canadian economy contracted in the July to September period for the second consecutive quarterly decline - the generally accepted definition of a recession.

Gross domestic product declined at an annualized rate, after taking inflation into account, of 1.0 percent in the third quarter after a second quarter decline of 1.2 percent.

In November there were 1,246,000 unemployed across Canada, up 36,000 from the previous month.

"All across this country we see the price Canadians are paying for the economic mismanagement of this government," Liberal House Leader Herb Grey charged in the House.

The industrialized provinces of Ontario, with an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent and Quebec, with a rate of 11.4 percent, are being hit hard by the downturn.

Layoffs in the thousands and a string of plant closures have been announced in recent weeks in the automotive and manufacuturing sectors.

Economists say the Canadian economy should be able to pull out of a recession by mid-1991 and they say easing tensions in the Persian Gulf and the resulting drop in crude prices are welcome.