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Canadian Employers Add 42,900 Jobs in March, Loonie Tops 91 Cents

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Job growth in Canada surged more than expected last month as the unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to pre-recession lows.

Canadian employers added 42,900 jobs in March, following a decline of 7,000 the previous month, Statistics Canada reported today in Ottawa. Economists expected a gain of 20,000 in March. The unemployment rate declined from 7 percent to 6.9 percent, matching the pre-recession low.

Compared to March 2013, the number of employed people increased by 190,000, official data showed. Over the same period, the number of hours worked increased 1.1 percent.

To the surprise of many, last month’s gains were led by the youth demographic, a cohort of the Canadian labour market that has struggled with high unemployment. Youth employment increased 33,000 in March, official data showed. However, youth unemployment remained unchanged at 13.6 percent.

Growth in part-time work far exceeded full-time employment. New part-time jobs surged 30,100, while full-time jobs increased 12,800.

From an industry perspective, employment in healthcare and social assistance increased by 24,000. Business, building and other support services increased by 15,000.

The stronger than forecast jobs report supported the Canadian dollar, which topped 91 US cents for the first time since mid-February. The loonie surged more than half a percent to 0.9123, a session high. In the early North American session, the USDCAD currency pair was trading at 1.0982, after bottoming out at 1.0956.

Canada has several high profile releases scheduled next week, including key housing data and the Bank of Canada’s quarterly business outlook survey. Stronger economic readings will ensure the loonie continues to be supported north of 90 US cents.

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