Canada jobs surge surprise offers hope for fourth quarter

Fri Dec 7, 2012 1:52pm EST
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By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's economy churned out far more jobs than expected in November in a surprising comeback at a time of sluggish growth, offering hope of stronger fourth quarter economic showing.

However, Statistics Canada's report on Friday was accompanied by a negative report on the labor productivity of Canadian businesses, which fell 0.5 percent in the third quarter, in contrast to a 0.6 percent rise in U.S. productivity.

Canada created a net 59,300 new jobs in November, mostly full-time positions and in the private sector, and the jobless rate fell to 7.2 percent, the lowest level since June, from 7.4 percent.

Market operators surveyed by Reuters had forecast, on average, 10,000 new jobs in November and a steady 7.4 percent jobless rate.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty called the news "terrific" and economists were unanimously upbeat about the report, which came amid other signs the economy was struggling to gain momentum.

"Just as the conventional wisdom pretty much everywhere was that the Canadian economy was practically grinding to a halt, we get handed one of the strongest job numbers of the year," said Doug Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.

"It's a solid report, from head to toe. At least upon first glance, I don't see any major warts in the data."

Nonfarm payrolls in the United States rose by 146,000 in the same month, proportionately not nearly as strong as Canada, but still better than expected, while the U.S. jobless rate fell to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent.   Continued...

A man looks at a job board posted at a job fair in Toronto, April 1, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch