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Economy pumps out 44,000 jobs, boosted by election hiring

A construction worker in Calgary is seen in this file photo.

Jeff McIntosh/The Globe and Mail

Canada added 44,000 jobs in October, a gain that blew past expectations but was likely due to temporary hiring for the federal election.

The bulk of the new jobs were in the public administration sector and coincided with the last two weeks before the election in mid-October that saw the Liberals sweep to power.

This likely artificially boosted last month's gains. Statistics Canada said the jump in survey interviewer, statistical clerk and other public administration positions was consistent with previous elections.

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Excluding the 32,000 new public administration spots, most of which were temporary, the economy added 12,000 jobs. That was more in line with expectations for an additional 10,000 jobs and marked the fourth consecutive months of employment growth.

"Before getting too carried away, the details of the release were less upbeat, but still positive overall," Bank of Montreal's chief economist Doug Porter said in a research note.

The country lost 9,000 construction jobs and the resources sector continued to shrink, shedding another 8,000 jobs last month, according to the government's latest labour report.

Alberta shouldered a big chunk of the losses, shedding 11,000 jobs in October.

The province is home to some of the world's biggest energy companies and has been hit hard by the plunge in oil prices. Its unemployment rate hit 6.6 per cent last month, its highest level since the global financial crisis.

The Obama administration's rejection of the Alberta-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline is expected to contribute the province's woes. TransCanada Corp., the company behind the pipeline, has already cut some of its executive positions and has warned about further cuts.

Meanwhile, Ontario and British Columbia each added more than 20,000 jobs. Over all, economists were positive about the health of Canada's labour market and said it showed resilience amid the 50-per-cent drop in oil prices since July, 2014.

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"Despite the fact the federal election may have skewed the data, the solid increase net of those jobs is positive for the economy," said Royce Mendes, a senior economist with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, in a research note. "It appears that, despite challenges in other parts of the economy, the labour market just keeps chugging along."

The country gained jobs in sectors such as trade, health care and food services.

More than 35,000 part-time jobs were created compared with only 9,000 full-time jobs. Although this was the second consecutive month during which part-time work outpaced full-time employment, the economy has created 181,500 full-time positions over the course of a year.

The jobless rate dipped to 7 per cent from 7.1 per cent in September. Analysts had expected the rate to remain the same.

Meanwhile, solid job figures in the United States cemented the market's view that the U.S. central bank would raise interest rates in December. Employers added 271,000 jobs in the United States and the unemployment rate fell to 5 per cent, a seven-and-half-year low.

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