Canada added 34,500 jobs in January, more than twice the number markets were expecting, and the unemployment rate dipped to a near record-low 5.5%, Statistics Canada data indicated on Friday.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a gain of 15,000 positions and for the jobless rate to stay at 5.6%.
All the gains were in full-time jobs, said Statscan. The goods-producing sector added 49,100 positions – almost half of them in manufacturing – while the service sector shed 14,500.
The hourly wages for permanent employees – a number closely watched by the Bank of Canada – rose by 4.4% compared with January 2019 and were up from 3.8% in December.
The central bank has held its key interest rate steady since October 2018 but said last month a cut was possible if a recent slowdown in domestic growth persisted.