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Canada added 40,600 jobs, well above expectations

Staff writer |
Canada added 40,600 jobs last month, Statistics Canada said, well above the 10,000 positions analysts were expecting.

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Canada's unemployment rate fell to 7.1% from 7.3% in February, also beating expectations for the rate to hold steady.

The March result comes after two straight months of job losses and was led by the biggest hiring spree by the services sector in four years.

The Canadian dollar surged after Friday's strong employment report. The loonie, as the Canadian dollar is known, was recently worth 76.8 U.S. cents, up from 76 cents late Thursday.

As of March, Canada has added 129,600 jobs on a 12-month basis, or an average of nearly 11,000 a month, and the unemployment rate is now up from its year-ago 6.8% level. The overall results somewhat mask weakness in Canada's resource-rich regions.

The unemployment rate in the province of Alberta, the epicenter of Canada's energy patch, has surged, as have applications to receive jobless benefits.

Of the net jobs created in March, 35,300 were in the full-time category and concentrated in the private sector, Statistics Canada said.

Canada's services sector, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of output, added 74,700 workers in the month, the data agency said, the biggest jump in four years. The health-care sector created 24,900 jobs, which reversed a nearly 20,000 reduction from the previous month.

The gain in services-sector employment offset a decline of 34,100 positions among goods-producing industries. Manufacturing shed 31,800 workers in March, after adding roughly 20,000 in the previous four months. On a year-over-year basis, factories have added 8,300 workers.

The resources sector shed 2,100 jobs in March, and 15,500 from a year ago.

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