The economy added 15,400 net new jobs last month, and the unemployment rate edged down to 5.8%—but the gains were due to a surge in part-time work that offset a decline in full-time positions.

Statistics Canada’s latest labour force survey also says the job gains in February were driven by an increase of 50,300 in public-sector jobs.

Compared with 12 months earlier, the overall job market added 282,500 positions for an increase of 1.5%—and all of that year-over-year growth came from full-time work.

For February the report also found that average hourly wage growth, which has been scrutinized by the Bank of Canada ahead of interest-rate decisions, stayed solid at 3.1%.

Last month’s job growth, while small enough to be statistically insignificant, represents an improvement over the January report that showed a drop of 88,000 positions for the labour force’s steepest one-month drop in nine years.

The February numbers nudged the unemployment rate down to 5.8% from 5.9% in January.

In a Friday report, Scotiabank’s Derek Holt says the jobs results are “certainly not great.”

For February, payroll employment went up by 58,800, says Holt. However, all of that gain was in the public sector. And, while “that’s not a ‘problem’ per se in that the public sector-related categories contain many high-quality jobs,” he writes, “I would have thought that private sector payroll employment might have rebounded more than it did,” compared to January. 

Royce Mendes, director and senior economist at CIBC, also says in commentary that the jobs report wasn’t exciting. He doesn’t expect much market reaction, but says the numbers seem “more indicative of the underlying trend in the labour market than what had been seen in recent months.” 

Read: Why you shouldn’t overreact to January’s labour market slump

Originally published on Advisor.ca
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