Canada Unexpectedly Adds Jobs in December

CBJ — Canada posted unexpectedly strong jobs and trade numbers for December, a sign its sputtering economy might finally be recovering after two years of pain caused by lower crude oil prices.

Statistics Canada said 53,700 net new jobs were added in the last month of the year, all of them full time, after shedding 31,800 positions over the two previous months.

Canada recorded a November trade surplus of $526 million, the first in more than two years, according to the government, as exports jumped and imports posted a modest gain.

The data will provide some comfort to the Bank of Canada, which cut interest rates twice in 2015 to help counter the damage inflicted by low oil prices, and last month pointed to a “significant” amount of slack still remaining in the economy.

Full-time employment jumped by 81,300 jobs, the largest month-on-month gain since March 2012, while part-time employment dropped by 27,600. The jobless rate rose to 6.9% from 6.8% in November as more people sought work.

In the 12 months to December, the number of people employed grew by 214,100, or 1.2%. The six-month average for employment growth was 28,000 jobs, up from 19,300 in November.

Exports increased by 4.3%, the most since June 2015, on higher shipments of metal and non-metallic products as well as record exports to countries other than the United States.