The national unemployment rate fell to 5.5 per cent compared with 5.6 per cent in December, in a Feb. 7, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Statistics Canada says economy added 34,500 jobs in January, unemployment down

OTTAWA — The Canadian economy added 34,500 jobs in January, fuelled by gains in the manufacturing, construction and agriculture industries, Statistics Canada said Friday.

The increase in jobs came as the unemployment rate fell to 5.5 per cent compared with 5.6 per cent in December, according to the monthly labour force survey.

Economists on average had expected an increase of 15,000 jobs for January, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

The goods-producing sector powered the job growth as it gained 49,100 jobs. The manufacturing group added 20,500 jobs for the month, while the construction subsector added 15,800. Agriculture added 11,500.

Meanwhile, the services-producing sector lost 14,500 jobs, weighed down by the loss of 16,000 jobs in the health care and social assistance subsector.

The gain in jobs for the month came as the number of full-time jobs rose by 35,700, while part-time employment fell by 1,200.

Regionally, Quebec added 19,100 jobs in January, while Manitoba added 6,500 jobs. New Brunswick added 4,600. The number of jobs fell by 18,900 in Alberta.

The Bank of Canada kept its key interest rate target on hold last month but left the door open to future rate cuts if weakness seen in the economy at the end of last year is more persistent than expected.

Governor Stephen Poloz has said the central bank will be paying particular attention to developments in consumer spending, the housing market and business investment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2020.

Employment

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