OTTAWA (Reuters) — Canada's economy created twice as many jobs as expected in March and the unemployment rate dropped for the first time this year, but private-sector and full-time hiring remained weak in a sign businesses remain cautious amid a slack economy.
Statistics Canada reported on Friday that the job market added 42,900 net new positions in the month, compared with market expectations of 20,000. The jobless rate dipped to 6.9 per cent from 7.0 per cent.
The six-month moving average for employment growth stood at 9,700 in March, up from 3,400 in February. Overall, the pace of job creation in Canada has been slowing, averaging 8,300 per month in 2013, less than one-third of the 2012 average.
In March, 30,100 Canadians obtained part-time jobs while only 12,800 won full-time positions. The public sector added some 39,300 workers to its payrolls compared with 3,900 in the private sector.
The biggest gains were in health care and social assistance, and in business, building and other support services. Agriculture lost 12,400 jobs.
Over 30,000 jobs went to youth aged 15-24, with employment gains little changed for those 25 years and over.
Hourly wages for permanent employees, closely watched by the Bank of Canada for signs of inflation, rose 2.4 per cent in the year to March compared 2.7 per cent in February.
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