The Canadian economy created 40,000 jobs in December -- all of it in full-time work -- and drove the unemployment rate to its lowest in four years, Statistics Canada said Friday.
Ontario accounted for about three-quarters of the jobs added across Canada in December and almost all of the other provinces either saw gains or stayed even. The only exception was Nova Scotia, which lost 5,000 jobs.
The federal agency said the national unemployment rate slipped by one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.1 per cent.
The results easily topped economist estimates for a gain of just 5,000 jobs nationally and an unemployment rate of 7.3 per cent.
"Canadian employment not only defied expectations in December, it also appears to be defying gravity," said Doug Porter, the Bank of Montreal's deputy chief economist.
"The Canadian labour market finished 2012 in fine fashion, posting solid job gains in four of the last five months and driving the jobless rate to its lowest ebb in four years."
Ontario accounted for about three-quarters of the Canadian jobs added in December and almost all of the other provinces either saw gains or stayed even. The only exception was Nova Scotia, which lost 5,000 jobs.
December saw 41,200 new full-time jobs added, while the number of part-time positions fell by 1,400.
Compared with a year earlier, Statistics Canada said there were 312,000 more jobs, all in full-time work.
The new jobs were added in a month of much hand wringing over the so-called fiscal cliff in the United States and worries that if a budget deal was not reached Canada's largest trading partner could be tipped back into recession.
A last-minute deal this week has prevented taxes from rising on the middle class and the poor. However U.S. lawmakers still must wrangle over spending cuts and raising the country's debt ceiling.
Ontario led the way with a gain of 33,000 jobs in December, following a similar increase in November. Most of the other provinces posted gains or were little changed for the month.
Manitoba posted an increase of 5,200, Saskatchewan added 4,000 and Newfoundland and Labrador increased by 2,700.
Prince Edward Island added 1,300 jobs, while New Brunswick, Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia were little changed for the month.
The gains were made in the transportation and warehousing segment which added 22,000 jobs, while the construction industry gained 18,000 jobs.
Professional, scientific and technical services lost 42,000, while public administration dropped 13,000.
Meanwhile, the industrial product price index was down 0.3 per cent in November compared with October, mainly as a result of lower petroleum and coal prices.
The raw materials index fell 1.9 per cent on lower oil prices.