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Manitoba's unemployment rate drops

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WINNIPEG — The Manitoba economy fired up the job-making machine in January, gaining back a good chunk of the ones it shed during the previous two months, new Statistics Canada figures show.

The federal agency said today the Manitoba economy created 4,100 new jobs in January, with a fairly evenly split between full-time (2,200) and part-time(1,800) positions.

The gain came after two consecutive months of job losses -- 3,800 in November and 1,700 in December.

With more Manitobans working, Manitoba's unemployment rate, which was already the lowest in the country, dropped a couple of more notches to 5.0 per cent from 5.2 per cent in December.

Canada's dormant labour market also sprung back to life in the new year, generating a surprisingly strong 69,200 new jobs spread across most of the country and evenly split between full-time and part-time.

However, the national unemployment rate rose two-tenths of a point to 7.8 per cent -- but in a backhanded way, that too was a sign of strength since the anomaly occurred because 106,400 more Canadians returned to the work force.

The employment boost was about four times greater than economists had expected and the largest since last April.

But after last week's revision in which Statistics Canada announced it had over-estimated post-recession job growth by 67,000, analysts will likely want to see a few more months of numbers before confirming a new jobs-growth spurt.

By official count at least, Canada can again be said to have recovered all the jobs lost during the recession, the only country in the G7 that can make that boast.

The agency now says there are 327,000 more Canadians working since last January, and 467,000 more jobs since the downturn ended in July 2009.

January's gains were spread among six provinces, led by Ontario with an increase of 36,300, and Alberta, which picked up 21,600. But there were also strong gains in smaller provinces -- employment increased by 6,200 in Nova Scotia and 4,900 in Newfoundland -- relative to their populations.

As well, the new jobs were closely split between full-time and part-time, and shared among private sector, public sector and the self-employed, although more women than men found work last month, and the majority came in the service sector.

The agency said January saw good pick-ups in business, building and other support services, public administration and agriculture.

Manufacturing, which enjoyed a strong month in December, was flat in January, while transportation and warehousing shed 32,000 workers, and accommodation and food services lost 26,000.

-- Staff/Canadian Press

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