OTTAWA - Canada's surprisingly strong job creation performance in recent months slowed to a crawl in October, as the economy added a meagre 1,800 jobs and the unemployment rate remained at 7.4 per cent.
The details of the Statistics Canada report were even weaker than the subdued headline would indicate.
Employment in the private sector — regarded as the most indicative of economic strength — fell by 20,300 jobs.
Those was offset by strong gains of 36,900 in the public sector while the self-employment category fell by 14,900.
Economists had expected some softness in October after two stellar months in September and August that saw employment jump by 86,000, well above would be expected in an economy growing less than two per cent.
However, many estimates before the report called for thousands of jobs to be created last month.
The September result brings the total of jobs created in Canada over the past 12 months to 229,000, all full-time, for a gain of 1.3 per cent, slightly below the growth rate in the economy.
In testimony before House and Senate committees this week, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney described Canada's labour market record since the 2008-09 recession as better than most advanced countries, but still below par. He noted there are still more Canadians wanting work than jobs available and many Canadians in part-time work who desire full-time employment.
Statistics Canada said the biggest loss last month came in agriculture, which shed about 16,000 workers, while the biggest gain was in education services, which added 16,200. There was little change in the key industries of manufacturing, construction and natural resources.
Overall, the economy's goods producing industries lost 19,300 jobs, while the services sector added 21,000.
Regionally, there were as many provinces reporting increases in employment as decreases. The biggest gain was in Quebec, which saw 20,100 jobs added, while the biggest loss came in British Columbia, which reported 10,900 fewer jobs.