OTTAWA - The country's labour force beat expectations last month by gaining a healthy 67,200 net new jobs, with most of the increase concentrated in part-time and self-employed work, Statistics Canada said Friday.
Despite the surge, the agency's latest jobs survey said the national unemployment rate didn't budge — remaining seven per cent for the second straight month — as more people entered the workforce.
Of the new jobs, 44,100 of them were considered part-time work, while 50,100 were self-employed positions — some of which may have been unpaid.
The more-desirable categories of full-time work saw a boost of 23,000 jobs, while paid employee positions rose 17,000 last month, the report said.
"It was not a perfect report in September, but still, it's a big number and we're encouraged by that," National Bank senior economist Krishen Rangasamy said in an interview.
The numbers also showed a huge boost in employment last month for Canadians aged 55 years and older, as 56,400 people in that demographic found work, including 37,900 additional positions for women.
A consensus of economists had projected the country would add 10,000 positions in September and that the jobless rate would stay at seven per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.
"Overall, the data are obviously an upside surprise, and add to the picture of strength in the economy in (the third quarter) that completes the recovery from a fire-distorted (second quarter)," CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld wrote, with a reference to the Alberta wildfires in May that forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray.
"The tie breaker will be the fourth quarter, with these job figures helping create some momentum for that trimester."
Quebec saw the biggest increase last month, with 38,300 new jobs, while Ontario gained 16,200 positions, Alberta added 13,300 and New Brunswick gained 4,400. Employment in British Columbia slipped by 600 positions, but on a year-over-year basis it still led all provinces with the fastest growth rate of 2.6 per cent.
"A positive report for the Canadian economy and one that continues to show modest national growth and an ongoing shake-up in regional labour market strength," BMO Capital Markets senior economist Robert Kavcic wrote in a research note.
He added that the jobs report reduces the likelihood that the central bank will lower its key short-term lending rate to stimulate the economy.
"For the Bank of Canada, this is another data point arguing against a near-term rate cut."
Compared to a year earlier, Canada overall had 138,800 more jobs last month for an increase or 0.8 per cent — including 88,500 part-time positions.
For the third quarter, employment was up by 62,000 jobs, Statistics Canada said.
In September, the country's services sector added 55,500 new jobs, with much of the increase in public administration and educational services positions. The goods-producing industries gained 11,600 jobs with construction and manufacturing work providing the biggest boosts.
Private-sector work rose by 17,900 jobs last month, while public-sector positions fell by 800, the survey said.
The jobs data came out ahead of a new Bank of Canada business survey that found hiring expectations of firms increased from relatively low levels in past surveys. The bank's latest business outlook survey said close to half of the roughly 100 companies polled intended to add jobs over the next 12 months.
"After strong gains in the third quarter and if those strong intentions to hire materialize then you would have momentum in hiring continuing in the fourth quarter," Rangasamy said.
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