While many regions of Canada saw major job gains in December, Alberta experienced a slowdown in job creation.
The Canadian economy added 39,800 jobs in December, according to Statistics Canada. That was much higher than economists expected and continued a streak of strong job growth in four of the past five months.
Ontario led the way, adding 33,000 jobs in December. Employment was also up in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island.
Job creation was stagnant in Alberta, Quebec, British Columbia and New Brunswick.
However, Alberta continues to lead the nation as the place to find work. Calgary's unemployment rate is 4.6 per cent, well below the national average of 7.1 per cent. Edmonton has an even lower unemployment rate at 4.3 per cent; although the Alberta capital actually saw its jobless rate slightly increase from November.
Todd Hirsch, senior economist at ATB Financial, attributed higher job growth elsewhere to other provinces playing catch-up to Alberta.
"(There are) a lot of unemployed people in Central Canada... so that is why we're seeing some job creation in those provinces. Alberta, we're already kind of firing at a nice, you know, full cylinders on our job market... not a whole lot of slack there."
Hirsch also cautioned that a further decrease in Alberta’s unemployment rate could make the labour shortage in the province more acute.
Any potential weakness in the provincial energy sector is being offset by strength in the construction, forestry, agriculture and retail sectors, according to Hirsch.
The Toronto Stock Exchange was up on the news that Canada’s unemployment rate has fallen to a four-year low of 7.1 per cent.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried to downplay the numbers. Harper said despite the good Canadian job numbers for December, the global economy faces significant challenges.