Canada added more than 50,000 jobs in December, bringing the total for 2016 to 214,000.
The total for last month was 54,000, according to Statistics Canada. The economy actually added 81,000 full-time jobs during the month, but that was slightly offset by a loss of 27,000 part-time positions.
The results were a positive surprise to economists, who had been expecting a slight loss of jobs during the month.
Because more people were looking for work, too, the unemployment rate ticked up to 6.9 per cent. But that's not necessarily bad news, economist Derek Holt at Scotiabank said. "Faster entry into the job market in search of employment while still getting a robust employment gain is a win-win for the economy," Holt said.
"Recall that a criticism of last year's job gains had been that they were all part-time in nature. Not any longer!"
The year 2016 was the best for job creation in Canada since 2012, the data agency said.
"The provincial gains were nicely spread out, with eight of the 10 posting jobs increases in December," economist Doug Porter at the Bank of Montreal added after the release of the data.
Newfoundland and Labrador lost 1,600 jobs and Saskatchewan lost 1,100.
On the positive side, these provinces added jobs:
- Quebec: 20,000.
- Ontario: 9,100.
- Alberta: 6,900.
"Quebec and B.C. were notably strong, but Ontario and, yes, even Alberta chipped in with decent gains as well," Porter said.
But economist Trevor Tombe noted that while strong, most provincial gains were within the margin of error.