Canadian employers have been a cautious lot in the past few quarters, with job creation averaging only 3,000 a month.
Government cutbacks tell part of the story, while manufacturing employment has dwindled amid competitive pressures. Meanwhile, most of the new jobs in the past year have been on the part-time side.
Statistics Canada will release its labour force survey on Friday. Economists expect about 21,000 new jobs, or more, were added in June, with the unemployment rate holding at 7 per cent, or possibly easing a notch to 6.9 per cent.
A jobs gain "would mark a second straight increase for the first time in seven months," noted economists at National Bank Financial, adding that the breakdown of employment "will require close scrutiny, given that it has disappointed since the beginning of the year, particularly with respect to full-time employment, private-sector employment and high-paying jobs."
There are grounds for optimism. U.S. job growth topped expectations last month and the country's jobless rate fell to the lowest level since September, 2008, more bright signs for the world's largest economy.
Moreover, parts of Canada's job market have remained quite sturdy, Statscan data from its labour force and payrolls surveys show. Although past trends aren't necessarily a predictor of future hiring, they do suggest where momentum lies in the labour market.
Here are some of the pockets of strength, in terms of salaries and jobs:
Average earnings for workers in the mining and energy sectors are $2,068.34 a week, payrolls data show – more than twice the national average of $932.13. Earnings growth has soared 13.3 per cent in the past year, more than quadruple the national pace. But the sector is relatively small, employing less than 250,000 people.
Year after year, this is one of the biggest growth areas in the labour market. The health care and social-assistance sector has added more than 60,000 positions in the past year and is the second-largest source of employment after retail trade, a reflection of the country's aging population.
Women over the age of 55 continue to lead all demographic groups in terms of employment gains. It's part of a years-long trend that has seen more older women join, or rejoin the labour market either as salaried employees or self-employed workers. Their jobless rate, at 5.4 per cent, is also the lowest of any group.
The category that includes accountants, graphic designers and engineers has swelled by more than 10,000 workers in the past year with employment hovering at a near-record high. This sector tends to require higher education, and the average pay is higher, at $1,293.09 a week.
Almost all job growth in the past year has been concentrated in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Alberta has the fastest employment growth in Canada, at 3.2 per cent (more than 70,000 jobs) compared with a national average of 0.5 per cent in the past year. Earnings growth, too, has been higher than average, at 4.3 per cent.