Canada unexpectedly adds 28,700 jobs in March

Driven by surge in part-time jobs

OTTAWA (Reuters) — The Canadian economy unexpectedly added 28,700 jobs in March, driven by a surge in part-time positions and gains in the retail and wholesale trade sector, data from Statistics Canada showed on Friday.

The figures topped economists' expectations for the employment level to be unchanged last month and kept the unemployment rate steady at 6.8 percent.

But the composition of jobs was not as robust as the increase in the overall figure suggested. The gain came from 56,800 new part-time positions, the most since July, as employers cut 28,200 full-time jobs.

By industry, the gain in jobs came predominantly from the country's services sector, with retail and wholesale trade leading the way. The industry added 19,800 jobs, its first gain since October.

The natural resources sector, which includes oil and gas extraction, added 6,300 positions after losing 26,000 jobs over the past two months. Oil is a major export forCanada, and the cheaper price of crude is being felt in the energy sector.

Employment in other goods-producing industries fell, including a 12,100 drop in construction jobs and a loss of 2,400 manufacturing positions.

The report is unlikely to sway the Bank of Canada ahead of its interest rate decision next week. The bank is seen holding rates at 0.75 percent after shocking markets with a cut in January.

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