Canada's economy added 28,700 new jobs in March, far more than economists had been expecting.

Statistics Canada reported Friday that most of the job gains were in part-time work. The jobless rate was unchanged at 6.8 per cent.

Canada's economy lost 28,000 full-time jobs during the month, but that was offset by an increase in 57,000 part-time positions.

While not a sign of booming growth, the number was far higher than the "no change" consensus of economists surveyed, according to Bloomberg.

Given slumping oil prices, which have compelled several energy companies to lay off people, and the recent failures of a number of large retailers, the addition of almost 29,000 new jobs was a surprise for some.

Job fair employment

Canada's economy added 28,700 new jobs in March, mainly part-time positions. (Seth Perlman/Associated Press)

"The headline Canadian employment number is much better than expected,"  Scotiabank said in a research note after the numbers came out. 

"There are more payroll employees and fewer self-employed in March, a trend we view as positive."

Most of the gains were concentrated in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. All other provinces saw little change in the jobs picture, except P.E.I. and Nova Scotia, which lost jobs

Alberta added almost 20,000 part-time jobs, but that figure was offset by a loss of 18,400 full-time jobs during the month.