Economy pumps out surprising number of jobs, led by Ontario gains

Click to play video: 'Canada’s murky job details released'
Canada’s murky job details released
WATCH: While 23,000 jobs were created in December, there were job losses in Canada's manufacturing and energy sectors. Eric Sorensen reports – Jan 8, 2016

The economy added a surprising number of jobs last month, new labour statistics show, as employment grew by 22,800 positions. The gains were concentrated in Ontario, Statistics Canada said Friday.

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.1 per cent despite the jump in employment, as more people looked for work, the federal agency said.

The rise in jobs easily beat expectations among economists who were calling for a more modest gain of 8,000 positions in December.

Still, there remain clear signs of weakness in the labour market, which is suffering from the shock created by crumbling oil and commodity prices.

MORE: Canada must ride out low loonie, cheap oil, central bank chief says

In Alberta, employment stayed relatively the same in 2015 compared to the previous year as the drop in full-time jobs was offset by a rise in part-time work.

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The number of hours worked fell in the province by 4.3 per cent last year compared to 2014.

During the same period, unemployment rose from 4.7 per cent to 7.0 per cent as 58,000 more people were looking for work.

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WATCH: This past year was tough for the Alberta economy. Thousands of Albertans found themselves out of work and as Tom Vernon explains, we might not be through the worst of it yet.

Click to play video: 'Alberta’s job numbers in 2015'
Alberta’s job numbers in 2015


Ontario’s diversified economy is starting to see some benefits from a lower loonie, which is providing a boost to the province’s manufacturers. Canadian factories added 6,000 positions last month.

But outside of Ontario, hiring ground to a halt last month.

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“All of the job growth was in Ontario, consistent with our view that Canada’s largest province is in reasonable shape,” Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at CIBC said.

The headline gain was also driven by a jump in self-employment, which likely reflects some job seekers giving up on joining a company.

“All told, a nice headline masking a continuing trend for weak hiring by private sector companies in Canada,” Shenfeld said.

WATCH: Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said this week there is no simple policy to respond to the economic impact of plunging commodity prices.
Click to play video: 'Poloz stand by assessment that Canada’s oil-based economy must ‘work itself out’'
Poloz stand by assessment that Canada’s oil-based economy must ‘work itself out’



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