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Canada's jobs numbers have followed a perfect pattern this year, with gains one month followed by losses the next.

September was no different. The country added a better-than-expected 74,100 jobs last month and – in a complete reversal of the prior month – most of the gains were in full-time positions, and in the private sector.

To put things in a longer-term perspective, employment has grown by a still-muted average of 13,000 jobs per month in the past year. But last month's increase was an improvement in the jobs picture.

Here are five charts that show how that picture has evolved in the past year:

1. Jobless rate hits lowest level since 2008

Robust job gains drove the country's unemployment rate to 6.8 per cent from 7 per cent in August – its lowest level since December, 2008, according to Statistics Canada. The country's jobless rate has been little changed over the past year, hovering between 6.9 per cent and 7.2 per cent, punctuated by both modest job creation and more people dropping out of the labour market. Last month, the participation rate stayed at 66 per cent, the lowest since 2001.

Unemployment rate, Canada

(as of first day of the next month)

SOURCE: Statistics Canada

2. Private sector sees wild swings

The private sector has been particularly volatile of late, with a record drop in August which was erased in September. Private-sector employers added 123,600 jobs last month while the public sector created 6,000 positions and self-employment fell by 55,600. Over the past year, public-sector hiring has posted the fastest expansion, growing 2.5 per cent, while the private sector has expanded 0.5 per cent and self employment is unchanged. Among sectors, public administration along with accommodation and food services have seen the fastest percentage gains, while agriculture has fallen the most.

3. More older workers working

September's job gains came mostly among youth and women between the ages of 25 and 54. But the longer-term trend has been steep employment gains among workers over the age of 55 as Canada's population ages, while younger people in the jobs market have seen little improvement. The jobless rate for workers aged 55-plus is 5.7 per cent, while it is 13.5 per cent for workers between the ages of 15 and 24. In the past year, employment has climbed 3.1 per cent for older workers compared with 1.2 per cent for younger people.

4. Still-hefty pace of part-time job growth

In September, full-time employment rose by 69,300 while part time grew by 4,800 positions. In the past year, however, part-time employment growth has outpaced that of full time, rising 2.3 per cent compared with 0.5 per cent. Many people – especially those older workers – are moving into part-time by choice, rather than necessity. But not all – the share of involuntary part-time workers (or those who would prefer full-time work) is still elevated since the recession.

5. Red-hot Saskatchewan

Resource-rich Saskatchewan's jobless rate fell to 3.5 per cent last month, remaining the lowest in Canada, while the province's pace of employment growth, at 3.3 per cent, is the fastest. By city, Regina has the country's lowest unemployment rate at just 2.8 per cent. Alberta's job market also continues its strength, with a provincial unemployment rate of 4.4 per cent. Newfoundland and Labrador still has the highest unemployment rate, but the jobless rate fell there too, to 12.7 per cent.

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