TORONTO (AP) — The Canadian economy added 34,300 new jobs in August, topping expectations of only modest gains and reversing the previous month's setback, Statistics Canada reported Friday.
The government agency said all the gains were part-time jobs, which added 46,700 employees, while there were 12,500 fewer full-time workers. As well, there were heavy losses in the goods producing sector, which generally pays higher wages.
Analysts had expected the economy to add only about 10,000 jobs in August, reflecting the slow pace of growth and risk-filled nature of the global outlook.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.3 per cent as the labor force grew in step with the employment gains.
Bank of Montreal economist Doug Porter called the overall report "a little better than expected ... (but) underwhelming."
"I wouldn't get too excited because a lot of the strength was on the surface," he explained. "It was due to a big rise in part-time jobs and there was actually a decline in hours worked."
"A quick way to look at it was the unemployment rate was unchanged. It's been unchanged from three months ago and it's unchanged from a year ago."
Particularly disconcerting was that 44,000 construction jobs were lost during the month, he said, many in Ontario, which shed 24,900 workers overall.
But given that analysts had expected only a 10,000 bump in employment growth in August, Jimmy Jean, economic analyst with Desjardins Capital Markets, said the report was satisfactory.
He noted that the latest performance brings the monthly jobs increase for the year back to an acceptable average of nearly 20,000.
"(That's) a performance that needs to be appreciated in the current context. Once more, the Canadian job market shows its resilience to the headwinds," he said.
The Canadian report was far stronger than the United States jobs numbers, which saw a miserly 96,000 jobs increase for the month, below expectations and below the growth needed just to keep up with labor market growth.
The Canadian dollar climbed versus the US currency on the simultaneous release of both reports, rising 0.46 of a cent to 102.21 US cents.
Last week, Statistics Canada confirmed expectations that economic growth in Canada had slowed from the previous year with a modest advance of 1.8 per cent annualized in the first half of 2012.
The August report was almost a direct mirror image of the disappointing July data, when Statistics Canada reported the economy had shed 30,400. Even more striking, almost all the losses in July came in Quebec and were part-time, whereas in August almost all the gains — 32,500 — were also located in the province and part-time.
March and April had shown a whopping 140,500 new jobs but then settled down in May and June to a more sustainable pace of more than 7,000 new jobs each month before July's surprise loss.
With the August gains, Statistics Canada said employment in Canada has increased by one per cent, or by 177,000 jobs, over the past year, with most of the gains in full-time work.