TORONTO (AP) — Canada added a surprisingly strong 59,300 jobs in November, dropping the country's unemployment rate by 0.2 points to 7.2 percent — the lowest since June, Statistics Canada said Friday.
Almost all of the 59,300 new jobs were full-time and in the private sector, said the reporting agency.
Economists had expected a smaller increase of about 10,000 jobs, following a minimal 1,800 gain in October, considering the economy is weathering considerable headwinds from abroad, notably Europe, the United States and China.
The November jobs report gives hope that Canada's economy will pick up in the last months of 2012 after a disappointing summer.
In the third quarter, Canada posted the weakest quarter of growth — 0.6 percent — in more than a year and analysts expect only a modest bounce-back during the current fourth quarter.
Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, who has described Canada's labor market record since the 2008-09 recession as better than most industrially advanced countries, has held its key rate at 1 percent for over two years but has been signaling plans to hike rates since April.
Statistics Canada says with November's report, employment gains in Canada have reached 294,000 over the past 12 months, mostly full-time.
By industry, employment rose about 28,000 in the accommodation and food services industries, while retail and wholesale trade increased by about 25,000, and professional, scientific and technical services picked up 23,000.
But manufacturing had another bad month, shedding 20,000 workers. There were also 15,000 fewer workers in the other services category.
Regionally, Ontario saw the most improvement with a pick-up of 32,000 jobs, dropping the province's unemployment rate 0.4 points to 7.9. Quebec gained about 18,000 jobs and Alberta 10,000.
CIBC World Markets economist Avery Shenfeld said that November's strong gains were a good sign, although he said it was less positive that all the gains were in the service sector while there were fewer manufacturing and construction jobs.
"Still, the report represented a splash of good news that has been in short supply in recent months," Shenfeld said.
Canada's dollar was up about a quarter of a cent against the U.S. dollar after the jobs report, rising to about 101.14 U.S. cents.