Canada outshines U.S. with December job creation

Fri Jan 7, 2011 4:20pm EST
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By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's economy created more jobs than expected in December after three months of disappointing numbers, once again outperforming the United States, where labor market recovery failed to gain momentum.

About 22,000 more Canadians were working in December than in November, primarily because of an surprise surge in manufacturing jobs. The unemployment rate held steady at 7.6 percent, according to Statistics Canada's labor force survey released on Friday.

Markets had expected 17,500 positions to be created in the month and the jobless rate to climb to 7.7 percent.

Canada has now recouped all the jobs lost during the recession, though the pace of gains has slowed and some experts say the well-paying, full-time jobs have not recovered. Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the report "encouraging".

By contrast, U.S. December nonfarm payrolls figures, also released on Friday, showed far fewer jobs were created in the month than expected.

Analysts said the jobs data was unlikely to persuade the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates this month, but could signal the bank's next hike will come sooner than expected.

"I think they'll take some comfort from Canadian labor markets continuing to generate jobs," said Paul Ferley, assistant chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada.

"It's probably not strong enough to alter policy. They'll likely remain on the sidelines, trying to assure the strength is not only sustained but strengthens further going forward."   Continued...