Business

Canada added 35K full-time jobs last month, twice what was expected

Canada's economy added 34,500 jobs last month, enough to push the jobless rate down to 5.5 per cent.

Jobless rate ticks down to 5.5 per cent on surge in full-time work

Although Canada added thousands of full-time jobs last month, the number was slightly offset by a loss of 1,200 part-time positions. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Canada's economy added 34,500 jobs last month, enough to push the jobless rate down to 5.5 per cent.

Statistics Canada reported Friday that the economy added 35,700 full-time jobs during the month, but that was slightly offset by a loss of 1,200 part-time positions.

Most of the new jobs came in Quebec, Manitoba and New Brunswick. Alberta lost almost 19,000 jobs. Everywhere else, the job market was essentially flat.

Economists had been expecting the number to come in at around 17,000 new jobs. 

The monthly job figure is notoriously volatile, and many economists advise to look past the monthly noise and focus on the overall trend. To that end, TD Bank economist Brian DePratto said the average job gain for the past six months is now a healthy 20,000 per month, and the economy has added almost 270,000 jobs in the past year.

Average hourly wages for full-time workers are up by 4.4 per cent in the past year, which is another good sign, he said. 

The labour participation rate, the percentage of employment age workers either working or looking for jobs, fell to 65.4 per cent.

"The Canadian economy has had no shortage of headwinds and shocks of late, but monthly noise aside, the labour market continues to shrug them off, suggesting the economy remains resilient," DePratto said.

Economists were shocked when the official numbers showed Canada's economy lost a whopping 71,000 jobs in November. But decent gains in the two months that have followed have been enough to offset that drop.

By sector, goods-producing industries led the way while the service sector was a laggard. There were more than 15,000 new construction jobs added during the month, and 20,500 new manufacturing ones.

On the downside, the health-care sector lost 16,000 jobs.

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