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20,900 jobs gained Canada in February

OTTAWA — There were more jobs created in February than economists were expecting, but your chance of snagging one of those positions was much better if you were a man nearing the age of retirement or in the public service.

Canada had a net gain of 20,900 people finding work in February, Statistics Canada said Friday. This helped bring the unemployment rate down one basis point to 8.2 per cent.

These results were better than expectations of economists looking for a gain of about 15,000 jobs.

Demographically, all the net employment growth came from men 55 and older with job gains of 26,000, and the public sector where the head count grew by 46,000.

Statistics Canada said employment among men and woman 55 or older has been growing steadily for many years as baby boomers have entered this age group.

Gains of 60,000 in full-time employment in February offset the 39,000 losses in part-time employment last month. Full-time work has been responsible for all of Canada's net employment gains since last summer.

Since last July, the country has seen 159,000 more people working, contrasting with job losses of 417,000 at that point since the employment peak in October 2008, Statistics Canada said.

Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist with BMO Capital Markets, called the February results "impressive," noting the strong gains in full-time work and the lowered jobless rate that's five basis points lower than the recent peak of 8.7 per cent last August.

"One small quibble was that the job gains relied quite heavily on the public sector, and we know that train can't continue much longer," he said in a research note, referencing the job situation in government, where action is expected to deal with growing budget deficits.

Ian Pollick, economics strategist with TD Securities, called last month's job trends "strong, though somewhat peculiar." He noted the heavy concentration of jobs gains in full-time work.

"In this light, it is important to note that this is an encouraging dynamic as presumably full-time workers have a greater capacity to spend money in the economy relative to those who are part time," he wrote in a report.

Pollick, however, said the loss of 7,500 people from employment in the private sector "suggests that businesses are still hesitant to reabsorb labour capacity and highlights the general private-sector concern over the firmness of the recovery."

By industry, some of the biggest employment gains last month came in manufacturing (17,000), natural resources (11,000), accommodation and food services (27,000), and health care and social assistance (16,000).

Losses were seen in other sectors such as retail and wholesale (-34,000) and finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (-22,000).

Alberta was the only province with a "notable employment loss," with 15,000 fewer people having jobs there in February. There was little change in Ontario and Quebec, while gains were seen in provinces such as British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. (Canwest)






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