The unemployment rate stayed at its 43-year low of 5.6 per cent last month as the economy closed out 2018 with the addition of 9,300 net new jobs.
For the second straight month, the jobless rate was at its lowest level since Statistics Canada started measuring comparable data in January 1976.
Economists had expected the addition of 5,500 jobs and an unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.
But even in a tightened job market the latest labour force survey shows wage growth delivered another weak reading in December of 1.49 per cent _ which is well below inflation.
Year-over-year average hourly wage growth for permanent employees was 1.46 per cent in November _ and it has decelerated steadily since its May peak of 3.9 per cent.
Looking back at 2018, Statistics Canada says the country gained
163,300 net new jobs for an increase of 0.9 per cent, which was a slower pace of growth compared with 2.3 per cent in 2017 and 1.2 per cent in 2016.
Employment growth in 2018 was mostly concentrated in the services sectors, which generated 151,000 positions compared with an increase of just 12,300 in goods-producing industries.