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OTTAWA, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Canada added 44,400 jobs in October, the biggest gain in five months, sending the unemployment rate down as employment in the public administration sector jumped on hiring related to last month's election, data from Statistics Canada showed on Friday.
The figures handily topped economists' expectations for a gain of 10,000 last month. The unemployment rate, which had drifted higher recently, eased to 7.0 percent from 7.1 percent. The increase in employment was the largest since May.
Canada was in a mild recession in the first half of the year, but analysts expect the economy has already recovered and point to the resiliency of the labor market despite layoffs in the energy sector.
Employment in the public administration sector increased by 32,000 positions in October, coinciding with temporary hiring related to the federal election.
Still, hiring picked up in other sectors, including a 17,600 increase in trade, and a 12,900 gain in accommodation and food services.
The overall job gains also came as the participation rate increased to 66.0 percent and brought the number of employed Canadians to over 18 million for the first time.
But the natural resources sector, which has been hurt by the drop in commodity prices, continued to shed jobs with employment falling by 8,000. Over the past 12 months, the industry has lost 25,600 jobs, with most of the declines in Alberta.
Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama