February 2, 2018 / 4:47 PM / 7 months ago

Canada's job market had its best year since 2002, revisions show

OTTAWA, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Canadian job growth in 2017 was revised slightly higher, data from Statistics Canada showed on Friday, confirming a stellar year for the country’s labor market, though economists expect the rampant pace of employment will soon start to moderate.

From December 2016 to December 2017, the economy created 427,300 jobs on a seasonally-adjusted basis, the annual revision showed. That was modestly higher than the initially reported increase of 422,500 jobs.

The 2.3 percent gain over the course of last year was the fastest job growth since 2002, the agency said.

The acceleration in employment, as well as unexpectedly strong economic growth in the first half of 2017, has prompted the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates three times since last July, and many economists expect two more hikes this year.

December’s unemployment rate was revised slightly higher to 5.8 percent from 5.7 percent, while December’s monthly employment change was downwardly revised to 64,800 from 78,600.

Nonetheless, the revisions still indicate a very strong labor market that continued to improve in the second half of last year despite slower economic growth, said Paul Ferley, assistant chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada.

While Ferley expects job growth to start to cool with the January report released next Friday, he said the low unemployment rate should still be enough to keep the Bank of Canada on a tightening path, even with the ongoing uncertainty over the fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“With the kind of momentum that we’re seeing, you become more confident that the economy might be able withstand some negative hits and, as a result, you really don’t need rates as accommodative as they are right now,” Ferley said. (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Paul Simao)

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