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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada gained a modest 12,500 new jobs in April and the unemployment rate held steady at 7.2 percent, Statistics Canada reported on Friday, the latest sign the economy is on track for only tepid growth in the second quarter.
The increase in hiring, slightly lower than forecast, meant Canada recovered just some of the 54,500 jobs estimated to have been lost in March, making it unlikely the central bank will act anytime soon on its threat to eventually raise interest rates.
"This is pretty consistent with an economy that has been growing below potential, and we're not looking for any move from the Bank of Canada until the second half of 2014, so this wouldn't change any of that," said BMO Capital Markets senior economist Robert Kavcic.
The median forecast in a Reuters survey of economists was for 15,000 new jobs in April and a 7.2 percent jobless rate. The unemployment rate had risen to that level in March from 7.0 percent in February.
The data is fairly volatile as March's big job loss followed a gain of 50,700 positions in February. The employment statistics are based on a sample survey of representative households and are considered accurate only to within plus or minus 57,400, 19 times out of 20.
"It was a very choppy report, but basically in line with consensus. Nothing that really stands out to really drive policy one way or another," TD Securities chief Canada macro strategist David Tulk said.
The Canadian dollar fell to a near two-week low of C$1.0152, or 98.50 U.S. cents, in the wake of the report, well off its Thursday North American session close at C$1.0075, or 99.26 U.S. cents.
While 36,000 full-time jobs were added during the month, a gain of 34,200 employees in the public sector was offset by a private sector loss of 20,000.
The manufacturing sector added the highest number of jobs since May 2012, winning back an estimated 20,600 of the 24,200 jobs lost in March, but it was still 51,800 below a year earlier.
Sectors showing losses included transportation and warehousing; trade; and business, building and other support services.
Among the provinces, the unemployment rate ranged from lows in those enjoying a resource boom, including 4.0 percent in Saskatchewan and 4.4 percent in Alberta, to 12.4 percent in Newfoundland and Labrador, which has traditionally had one of the country's highest jobless rates.
Additional reporting by Andrea Hopkins, Euan Rocha and Solarina Ho in Toronto; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio, Jeffrey Hodgson and Peter Galloway