Ottawa-Gatineau's unemployment rate drops to 5.1% in February

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The unemployment rate remained at 5.8% as more of us were engaged with the labour market.

Job creation in Canada once again blew past expectations with 56,000 positions added in February - majority were full-time.

Medicine Hat's unemployment rose for a second straight month, according to the most recent report from Statistics Canada.

The February surge follows a gain of 66,800 positions in January to give Canada its strongest two-month stretch of job creation since the spring of 2012 - and its best two-month start to a year since 1981.

Employers added 55,900 jobs in February, which was the third month of outsized gains in the last four and exceeded the 20,000 jobs created in the United States for the same month.

Bank of Canada deputy governor Lynn Patterson said Thursday that she expected economic growth to build fresh momentum in the second half of the year, thanks in large part to the still-strong employment conditions and improving wages.

However, Alberta's oil and gas sector wasn't actually a contributing factor in the increased unemployment rate, as that industry saw an increase in 2,600 jobs over the past month.

The addition last month of 67,400 full-time jobs more than offset a loss of 11,600 part-time positions, the data showed.

More people were also employed in public administration; natural resources; and agriculture in February.

Wages accelerated again, rising 2.2% for permanent employees (January: + 1.8%). It's a key reason why the Bank of Canada is sticking to its belief the economy will rebound and interest rates will likely head higher. In particular, it focuses on a reading called "wage common", which incorporates payroll data from several sources, not just from the labour force survey. Ontario was the sole province with a notable employment gain.

The services-producing sector saw employment increase by 46,200 in February, while jobs in the goods-producing increased by 9,500.

That's a small increase in the jobless rate from the month before, when it was 8.3 per cent, but down from February a year ago, when it was 8.9 per cent.

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