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Private Sector Powers Canadian Employment Gains In April

The Canadian economy shifted into high gear last month, creating an extraordinary 108,700 jobs that goes a long way toward reversing the losses of the 2008-09 recession.

The gain was the biggest ever recorded by Statistics Canada in numbers terms, and the biggest in percentage terms since August 2002.

The Canadian dollar got a boost from the report, which indicated that private-sector employers had begun to hire again last month – a sign of economic recovery.

The loonie had been at about 95.6 cents US just before the 7 a.m. ET release and gained about half a cent just after the announcement, reducing some of the currency’s losses from Thursday when the loonie dropped about two cents.

Statistics Canada said the country added 44,000 full-time jobs last month and all were in the private sector. There were also and 65,000 part-time jobs added.

Employment increased across all age groups, and among both men and women.

Because more Canadians went looking for work in April, the unemployment rate only dropped one-tenth of a point to 8.1 per cent, however.

“The gain in April was of a similar magnitude to some of the monthly losses observed in the most recent employment downturn, which began in the fall of 2008,” the agency noted.

Since last July, when employment began turning positive after months of steep losses, Canada has recouped 285,000 of the 387,000 jobs lost during the recession.

Economists had been expecting a modest 25,000 pick-up, with some leaning toward the lower range in expectation that the wind-down of activities surrounding the Olympics would show up in the employment data.

But the post-Olympic swoon was minimal, with only a 13,600 loss in the food services and accommodation sector.

The April surprise, however, is consistent with other data showing the Canadian economy is leaping forward from last year’s recession. The final quarter of 2009 saw a five per cent increase in output, and the just past first quarter is believed to have advanced by about six per cent.

Almost all industries, with the exception of manufacturing, posted gains. And all provinces were in the plus column, Ontario leading the way with a 40,500 increase.

The largest employment increases were in retail and wholesale trade (32,000), business, building and other support services (31,000), construction (24,000), and information, culture and recreation (20,000).

The big disappointment was that manufacturing, which had been showing signs of revival of late, dropped 21,000 workers in April.

Regionally, other than Ontario, the biggest gains came in Quebec, with an increase 35,000; British Columbia, 13,000; Alberta, 10,000, and Manitoba, 7,000.