OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada shed 19,700 jobs in April as losses in part-time work offset gains in full-time positions, but analysts said the data signaled some resilience to the damaging impact of the oil price slump on the country's petroleum-producing economy.
Statistics Canada said on Friday the jobless rate stayed at 6.8 percent in April. Analysts had expected a net job loss of 5,000 positions.
Part-time employment dropped by 66,500 jobs, the biggest fall since the loss of 77,500 in March 2011.
But full-time employment rose by 46,900, which Scotiabank economist Derek Holt said was a sign of hope after an oil price crash that the Bank of Canada said would hit the economy hard in the first half of this year.
"I think the Bank of Canada will look at the trend in employment and be encouraged that we're not getting the sharp drop-off in overall employment levels that had been feared," he said.
That said, the 12-month jobs gain came to 139,100, an advance of 0.8 percent, while the six-month average for employment growth was just 2,600 jobs, down from 16,300 in March.
This was the weakest six-month average since the loss of 2,100 jobs recorded in February 2012.
Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, who has long expressed concern over the sluggish job market, forecast last week the economy would return to full employment around the end of 2016.
"It was a disappointment, obviously, in the headline, but the details behind it weren't really as bad. If you look, the full-time employment was firmer than expected," said Mark Chandler, head of Canadian fixed income at Royal Bank of Canada.
The construction sector posted the biggest monthly loss in April, shedding 28,400 positions, while the retail and wholesale sector dropped 20,500. U.S. retailer Target Corp said in January it would wind down its Canadian operation, throwing more than 17,000 people out of work.
The labor participation rate, which is of particular interest to the central bank, fell to 65.8 percent from 65.9 percent in March. In December 2014 and January 2015 it had hit 65.7 percent, the lowest since the 65.6 percent recorded in July 2000.
Editing by Paul Simao; and Peter Galloway