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Canada gains 66,800 jobs, blowing away forecasts

Canada's job gains beat economists' forecasts.Postmedia

OTTAWA — Canada saw a rush of 66,800 net new jobs in January in a gain fuelled by a surge in the private sector.

Statistics Canada’s labour force survey says more people also searched for work last month, which pushed the unemployment rate to 5.8 per cent, up from its 43-year low 5.6 per cent in December.

The number of private-sector employee positions climbed by 111,500 in January for the category’s biggest month-to-month increase since the agency started collecting the data point in 1976.

The report says the services sector saw a gain of 99,200 positions, led by new work in wholesale and retail trade, while the goods-producing industries experienced a net loss of 32,300 jobs.

Year-over-year average hourly wage growth in January for permanent employees was 1.8 per cent, which was up from December’s reading of 1.5 per cent, but still well below its May peak of 3.9 per cent.

By region, Ontario and Quebec had the biggest job gains, while Alberta shed jobs for a second-straight month and saw its jobless rate rise to 6.8 per cent, up from 6.4 per cent.