Canada added 337,000 jobs last month, twice what was expected
Unemployment rate pushed down to 5.5% — below where it was before the pandemic
Canada's job market bounced back in a big way in February, shaking off the losses brought about by the Omicron variant with a hiring surge that was enough to push the unemployment rate below where it was before the pandemic started.
Statistics Canada reported Friday that Canada added 337,000 new jobs in February, pushing the jobless rate down to 5.5 per cent.
That's lower than the 5.7 per cent jobless rate seen in February 2020, before the advent of COVID-19. It's also just shy of the all-time record low of 5.4 per cent, reached in May 2019.
A wave of lockdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the Omicron variant resulted in significant job losses in January, but February's surge was more than enough to offset that.
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Sectors that have been hardest hit by COVID rebounded, with the food and accommodation sector adding 114,000 new jobs.
"As Canadians ventured out of their homes again in February, businesses in accommodation and food services and information, culture and recreation were scrambling to rehire workers," said economist Royce Mendes with Desjardins.
There were signs of recovery throughout the numbers. The total number of hours worked surged by 3.6 per cent in February, enough to finally put that figure above where it was before the pandemic.