Service sector drives stronger Canada job growth in January

Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:24am EST
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By Leah Schnurr

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian job growth unexpectedly surged in January as hiring in the service sector helped the labor market build on its momentum from the latter part of 2016, suggesting the economy was finding its footing.

Canada added 48,300 jobs last month, Statistics Canada said on Friday, exceeding economists' expectations for employment growth to be unchanged.

Full-time positions increased by 15,800. Although that was outpaced by a 32,400 increase in part-time work, economists were encouraged by the decline in the unemployment rate to 6.8 percent, even as the participation rate edged up.

Canada saw strong jobs growth in the second half of 2016. While much of that came from part-time work, suggesting a deterioration in job quality, economists expect full-time work to be stronger this year.

Indeed, the number of full-time jobs has increased by 141,000 since last August, Statistics Canada said.

"We've had a very good run here from employment and I think it's sending a pretty convincing signal that the economy is starting to improve," said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.

The Canadian dollar strengthened against the greenback immediately following the release. [CAD/]

The Canadian economy was hurt by lower oil prices that forced the Bank of Canada to cut rates twice in 2015, but policymakers believe the worst of the commodity shock is past.   Continued...

Overhead view of the 2014 Spring National Job Fair and Training Expo in Toronto, April 3, 2014. REUTERS/Aaron Harris