OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian economy added 35,400 jobs in January, far more than forecast, though the gains came on the back of more part-time positions, data from Statistics Canada showed on Friday.
The increase brought the unemployment rate down to 6.6 percent from December’s 6.7 percent. Economists had forecast that just 4,500 jobs would be added in January, following two months of hefty declines.
But the details of the report were less strong, with employers cutting 11,800 full-time jobs, but adding 47,200 part-time positions.
“That takes a little bit of the shine off of what, on the surface, looks to be a pretty good number,” said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets, of the rise in part-time jobs.
Still, given recent disappointing economic data in Canada, Porter said: “I would say that this is a massive relief.”
The Canadian dollar weakened slightly against the greenback after the data. In the United States, job growth rose solidly last month, putting a mid-year interest rate hike back on the table.
The recent downturn in oil prices also made itself felt, with the natural resources sector shedding 8,800 jobs last month. Work in oil, gas and support activities make up about 60 percent of the natural resources segment, the agency said.
Overall, the goods-producing sector added 9,700 jobs, while the services-producing sector increased by 25,700.
The labor participation rate, which is closely watched by the Bank of Canada, held steady at 65.7 percent, the lowest since 2000.
A separate report from Statistics Canada showed the value of Canadian building permits rose by 7.7 percent in December, bouncing back from the previous month’s slump on higher construction intentions in the non-residential sectors in Alberta and British Columbia. However, the value of residential building permits was unchanged.
Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Additional reporting by Susan Taylor in Toronto; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe