Canada's economy added 52,000 jobs in September, but the unemployment rate ticked higher to 7.4 per cent because more people were looking for work.

The gain was more than the roughly 10,000 new jobs that economists polled by Bloomberg were expecting.

U.S. surprise

Canada's jobs data beat expectations, but was blown away by news from the U.S. also released Friday which showed that country's unemployment rate has ticked below 8 per cent for the first time in almost four years.

Statistics Canada said Friday that full-time work made up most of the gains, with a net 44,100 new positions added.

"We’re encouraged to see 52,000 more Canadians working in September and 820,000 net new jobs created since July 2009," Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said in a statement.

An increase in 34,000 retail jobs and 29,000 new construction workers was more than enough to offset declines in other sectors. "The two big movers last month were the very sectors that had displayed pronounced weakness previously," BMO economist Doug Porter said after the release of the data.

Provincially, Ontario and Manitoba led the way, while the jobs number declined in Saskatchewan, where 3,600 jobs were lost — the first notable drop there since November of last year.

There was little change in either direction in all other provinces and territories, Statistics Canada said.

"The underlying trend in Canadian employment is surprisingly stable," Porter noted.

Others were less enthused. Canadian Labour Congress president Ken Georgetti noted there are now five unemployed workers for every job opening across the country. "Our economy is sluggish and there is very little prospect on the horizon for real job growth," Georgetti said in a release.