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Updated: Fri, 04 Jan 2013 10:29:39 GMT | By CBC News,

Canada's jobless rate drops to 4-year low

Canada's jobless rate drops to 4-year low

Canada produced a surprising 40,000 new jobs in December, built on the back of a larger-than-expected 30,000 uptick in Ontario.

Statistics Canada reported Friday in its Labour Force Survey that Canada's unemployment rate dropped to 7.1 per cent last month, the lowest level in four years.

Economists were only expecting about 5,000 new jobs.

Over the past five months, Canada's economy has now added 187,300 new jobs.

All the December job gains came in full-time work. All in all, 1,400 part-time jobs were lost, but that was offset by 41,200 new full-time jobs.

Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island all posted job gains, although Ontario stood out with 33,000 net new jobs, the second straight month that province has posted such a strong showing.

Nova Scotia, Alberta and New Brunswick lost jobs during the month, while B.C. was basically unchanged.

By sector, construction was a standout, with 18,000 new jobs.

"A notable exception to the good news was a loss of jobs in the highest-paid industries," Canadian economist Erin Weir noted. "Employment declined in resource extraction and utilities, the best-paid goods-producing industries, and in professional, scientific and technical services, the best-paid part of the service sector."

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