40,600 new jobs in March for biggest gain in six months

Increase pushes national unemployment to 7.1% from 7.3%; over 35,000 are full-time positions.

OTTAWA — The country’s labour market received a surge in full-time and private-sector work last month that helped to drive down the national unemployment rate to 7.1%, Statistics Canada said.

The agency’s latest labour force survey said Canada generated 40,600 net new jobs in March, pushing down the national unemployment rate from 7.3% in February.

It was the largest month-over-month increase since 43,100 jobs were added in October.

The data also showed that 35,300 of March’s net new jobs were full time, 65,100 jobs were created in the private sector, public-sector positions fell by 2,600, and 74,700 net new positions were in the services sector.

In the hard hit region of Alberta, the provincial unemployment rate fell to 7.1% in March compared to 7.9% in February, thanks to more retail and wholesale trade positions. This change came despite the fact the jobless rate rose in both Calgary and Edmonton.

Calgary’s unemployment rate rose to 8.6% from 8.4% in February – reaching its highest mark in at least 20 years. In Edmonton, the rate crept up to 6.9% from 6.8%.

Statistics Canada cautions the figures for individual cities may fluctuate widely because they are based on small samples.

A consensus of economists had been predicting the country to add 10,000 net jobs overall and for the unemployment rate to stay at 7.3 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.

Compared to 12 months earlier, Canada added 129,600 net new jobs, an increase of 0.7%.

The country’s youth unemployment rate crept up 13.4% last month, from 13.3% in February.

The data also showed that self-employed positions across Canada 22,000 last month, while the net number of employee jobs increased by 62,600.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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