OTTAWA (Reuters) — Canada's economy churned out a surprising 59,200 jobs in August, according to Statistics Canada estimates released on Friday, with most of the gains in part-time work and led by the health-care and social assistance sector.
The unemployment rate edged down to 7.1 per cent from 7.2 per cent, the federal agency said.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast 20,000 net new jobs in August and no change in the jobless rate.
The outstanding performance — which would be the equivalent of about 533,000 jobs in the United States — comes amid volatile employment data in 2013 so far, peaking at 95,000 new jobs in May after a loss of 54,500 in March.
The average monthly job growth over six months, seen as a more reliable gage, was 12,000 compared with 29,000 in the previous six-month period and 26,000 in 2013.
About 70 per cent of the jobs created in August were part-time, most of the new hires were aged 55 or older and the private sector added more workers than the public sector. Services industries added 40,600 workers while goods-producing industries added just 18,600.
Employment in health care and social assistance led the gains, surging by 59,500 in August in what Statscan said was a long-term upward trend. That was offset by a loss of jobs in education, finance and "other services."