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6 things to know about Canada’s epic hiring spree in September

WATCH: Canada created tens of thousands more jobs than expected last month, pushing the unemployment rate to its lowest level in nearly six years. But, at the same time, our economy is climbing a slippery slope. Eric Sorensen explains.

The Canadian job market appears to have cranked up a notch — or several – last month, with employers adding a whopping 74,000 positions.

That was well in excess of what experts were anticipating while the new jobs helped push down the unemployment rate to its lowest level in nearly six years, or December 2008.

MORE: Jobs surge by 74,000 as unemployment rate drops to 6.8%: StatsCan

But reservations remain around the report, like other labour force surveys from Statistics Canada this year.

Here’s six things to know about September’s blockbuster jobs report:

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How big of a beat?

StatsCan reported nearly four times the number of jobs were added to payrolls last month versus what experts were anticipating, the consensus call being 20,000 (and many were below that tally).

Aided by the strong September numbers, there’s now been more hiring between July and the end of September than during any other three-month stretch for nearly the past two years.

“It does appear some momentum is building in Canada’s job market,” Leslie Preston, an economist at TD Economics said.

Private sector booms back

After purging a troubling 111,000 jobs in August, private employers hired 123,600 in September. “Private sector payrolls roared back with a record gain,” Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO, said.

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Another encouraging sign: Much of the gains, or 69,000 jobs, were full-time positions.

Where were the job gains?

Jobs were up for grabs across a range of industries. Hotels and restaurants added more than 47,000 positions; healthcare added nearly 32,000. Developers hired on nearly 30,000 new construction workers last month while the mining and forestry sector picked up nearly 28,000 additional workers.

One offset was education jobs. B.C.’s teachers strike fueled a national decline of 44,000 jobs, as contract employees typically hired by the province weren’t during the labour dispute.

Here’s a breakdown of where jobs were gained (or lost) by province last month, and how the unemployment rate was affected:

Province by province breakdown of job gains/losses in September. Neil Joyes/Global News

One month doesn’t make a trend

While the September jobs bonanza is generally being hailed a very nice surprise to the upside for Canada’s economy, some caution observers to temper their exuberance.

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“One month of data certainly doesn’t make a trend. And September’s good news only partially makes up for the weak jobs data over the previous several months,” David Madani, an economist at Capital Economics in Toronto said.

He said by phone the six-month average for full-time job creation still remains very sluggish.

TD’s Preston expressed a similar sentiment. “It is hard to find something bad to say about September’s employment report. That said, the worry is it could all be lost next month given the decidedly see-saw pattern of the labour force survey over the past year.”

Catching up to U.S.?

Still, Preston noted that Canada’s labour market, which has paled in comparison to a rebounding U.S. economy this year, appears to be playing catch-up – aided by increasing demand from U.S. companies for Canadian goods and services.

Adjusted to the U.S. method for calculating the unemployment rate, Canada’s jobless rate now matches that of the United States, at 5.9 per cent.

Canada and the United States are performing better than most – namely economies in the Eurozone and China – at the moment, BMO’s Porter said.

“Amid growing gloom in much of the rest of the world, the North American job market held up remarkably well in September.”

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A grain of salt

Still, experts remain cautious about the volatility seen in the jobs numbers this year, with questions being raised about their accuracy and reliability. Recall that July’s jobs numbers had to be restated by Statistics Canada.

“In an increasingly uncertain world, we can always count on the certainty of Canadian employment to surprise and confound,” Porter said.

“As a standalone report, [September] is no doubt highly impressive, but given the rising turmoil in the rest of the world, not to mention growing questions over the reliability of the jobs data, these results may not have much lasting impact.”

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