Hamilton's unemployment rate edged downward for a fifth-straight month in December.

Statistics Canada reported on Friday that the city's jobless rate fell to 5.9 per cent, down 0.2 points from the month before.

Last month's numbers tied Steeltown's low for 2012. In February, unemployment in Hamilton ebbed below six per cent, before rising again in the spring.

Canada's jobless numbers fell in December as well, Statistic Canada said. The national unemployment rate dropped to 7.1 per cent last month, the lowest level in four years, according to agency's monthly Labour Force Survey.

The country produced a surprising 40,000 new jobs in December, built on the back of a larger-than-expected 30,000 uptick in Ontario.

Economists were only expecting about 5,000 new jobs.

Over the past five months, Canada's economy has now added 187,300 new jobs.

All the December job gains came in full-time work. All in all, 1,400 part-time jobs were lost, but that was offset by 41,200 new full-time jobs.

Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island all posted job gains, although Ontario stood out with 33,000 net new jobs, the second straight month that province has posted such a strong showing.

Nova Scotia, Alberta and New Brunswick lost jobs during the month, while B.C. was basically unchanged.

By sector, construction was a standout, with 18,000 new jobs.

"A notable exception to the good news was a loss of jobs in the highest-paid industries," Canadian economist Erin Weir noted.

"Employment declined in resource extraction and utilities, the best-paid goods-producing industries, and in professional, scientific and technical services, the best-paid part of the service sector."