Statistics Canada says the economy added 230,700 jobs in June as restrictions put in place to slow the pandemic were rolled back across the country.
The gain came as the number of part-time positions rose 263,900, bringing it basically back to pre-pandemic levels, while the number of full-time jobs fell 33,200.
Statistics Canada said Friday the part-time gains were driven by jumps in jobs in the hard-hit retail and food services sectors and concentrated among youth.
The 101,000 jobs increase in the accommodation and food services sector was the largest increase since last July, with Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia accounting for most of the increase, while Ontario grew slower on account of restrictions on indoor dining.
More people also went looking for work in June, after giving up on the job hunt in May, as the total size of the labour force increased by 170,000 in June.
The unemployment rate fell to 7.8 per cent for the month compared with 8.2 per cent in May, which the statistics agency says was the lowest of the pandemic since the 7.5 per cent recorded in March.
The result for June left the country about 340,000 jobs, or almost two per cent, below pre-pandemic employment levels seen in February 2020.
Statistics Canada said the employment gap is likely closer to 540,000 jobs when factoring in population growth.
CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes says the overall increase in June shot past the best of market expectations, which could also mean gains in the coming months may be more modest than massive.