"The headline unemployment rate may have defied expectations to remain at a record low 5.6 per cent, but the way we got there was less encouraging", Brian DePratto, senior economist with TD Bank, wrote in a note to clients. Employment also increased 0.9 per cent in December and rose 1.9 per cent since December 2017.
According to data released by Stats Canada today (Jan. 4), the unemployment rate went from 5.2 per cent in November to 5.8 per cent in December.
However, wage growth showed a weak reading of 1.49 percent last month, which was well below inflation.
Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a gain of 5,500 positions in December and for the jobless rate to increase to 5.7 percent from 5.6 percent in November, a month when a record 94,100 jobs were created.
The national agency said the country added 9,300 net new jobs in December, coming on a gain of 28,300 part-time positions and a drop of 18,900 full-time jobs.
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Statistics Canada says gains in part-time work were outweighed by the loss of full-time jobs in Alberta, while in Saskatchewan job growth was led by agriculture. In contrast, the unemployment rate for Canadian-born people was five per cent in the same year.
In the Edmonton census metropolitan area, the unemployment rate rose from 6.2 per cent in November to 6.3 per cent in December.
The Bank of Canada has been monitoring wage growth ahead of its interest-rate decisions as it tries to determine how well indebted households can absorb higher borrowing costs.
The service industries, including healthcare and social assistance, educational services, transportation and warehousing, and business, building and other support services, were the biggest contributor to employment gains.