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Justin Sullivan

Canada's labour market is healing, with employers creating jobs for the fifth time in a row last month as gains in full-time work outweighed losses in part-time positions.

The economy added 24,700 positions in May, Statistics Canada said Friday, after a record 108,700 number of jobs were created in April. The jobless rate stayed at 8.1 per cent, though, as more people looked for work.

The report paints a picture of a steadily improving labour market. Employment has risen by 310,000 since the start of the recovery in the jobs market in July, recouping much but not all of the losses through the recession. May's job creation was tilted towards transportation and warehousing, health care and social assistance, public administration, and agriculture.

"Job creation was bound to slow after the April figure knocked the socks off expectations," said Pascal Gauthier, senior economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank.

Job growth has averaged 50,000 a month over the past three months. He expects that pace to cool to about 25,000 a month in the second half of the year. "Nonetheless, this should be sufficient to bring down the unemployment rate to 7.5 per cent by year-end," he said in a note.

The report comes days after the Bank of Canada raised interest rates for the first time since 2007 amid clear evidence the economy is gathering steam. The job growth "reinforces the Bank of Canada's rationale to hike rates earlier this week despite the turmoil in Europe." said Bank of Montreal economist Benjamin Reitzes.

Full-time employment rose by 67,300 last month, while part-time jobs tumbled by 43,500. Since July, "virtually all employment gains have been in full time," the agency said.

In another sign the jobs market is recovering, the number of private-sector employees swelled by 43,400, while there were 28,000 fewer self-employed workers last month.

Since July, private-sector jobs have risen by 2.8 per cent, with most of the gains in recent months. The public sector has increased by 2.2 per cent, while self-employment has fallen by 2.3 per cent.

And students are faring better. About 54,000 more students aged 20 to 24 landed jobs last month, a heartening change from last year, which was one of the worst summers for them on record.

Older workers are benefiting most from job creation. May's job growth was mostly among women aged 55 and over. Since July, employment has grown fastest among men who are 55 and over, at 5 per cent, followed by older women, at 3.1 per cent. That compares with 1.7 per cent for core-aged women and 1 per cent for core-aged men. Over the same period, youth employment has grown by 1.6 per cent.

Among provinces, Ontario created 18,000 jobs in May, all in full-time work. The jobless rate, however, rose 0.1 percentage point to 8.9 per cent as more people entered the labour market. Employment also rose in Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador as well as Nova Scotia. It fell in British Columbia.

Five months of employment gains are the longest winning streak since early 2008, said Jonathan Basile, vice-president of economics at Credit Suisse, adding that the strength will likely further fuel consumer spending.

Economists had been expecting 15,000 new jobs with the rate easing to 8 per cent.

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