The Canadian economy added 22,000 jobs last month, but the unemployment rate held steady at 6.9 per cent for the third month in a row.
Statistics Canada reported Friday that increases in private-sector jobs were somewhat offset by a reduction of workers in the public sector.
The unemployment rate has declined by 0.3 percentage points in the past year, dropping from 7.2 per cent this time last year.
In 2013, the economy has created an average of 13,400 jobs per month. That compares to 25,400 a month, on average, in 2012.
Wages also higher
Beyond the number of jobs, there were signs that the quality of those jobs was also improving.
Royal Bank economist Dawn Desjardins noted one of the Bank of Canada's favourite metrics — wages for permanent workers — increased by 2.3 per cent during the month, well ahead of the 1.5 per cent pace in the previous quarter.
"The economy will need to maintain this pace over the next couple of years to reach full capacity and eliminate the slack in labour markets," Desjardins noted.
Still, there were some reasons for concern beneath the strong headline number.
The data agency noted that part of the reason the unemployment rate has dropped this year is because the participation rate — the proportion of the adult population in the workforce in one form or another — has dropped over the past 12 months to 66.4 per cent. Canada's labour force is actually growing at a slower pace than than the country's population as a whole, a concerning trend if it persists.
Scotiabank economist Derek Holt also reacted with muted enthusiasm, noting that most of the job gains were part time, or self-employed positions. Full-time jobs only ticked up by about 1,000, and there were more than 28,000 public-sector job losses during the month, Holt noted.