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Canada adds 95,000 jobs in May, biggest gain in more than decade

Fin - Balance Sheet - CA

Canada's economy added a surprising 95,000 jobs in May, pushing the unemployment rate down a percentage point to 7.1 per cent.

That's well ahead of market expectations of 15,000 new jobs in May.

Statistics Canada said the majority of jobs were full-time, and the biggest gains were in construction, where employment jumped 5.8 per cent in May.

Calling the jobs data "ever more volatile," CIBC economist Avery Shenfeld said the jobs gain "came with all the bells and whistles, with the job gains dominated by the private sector, by full time employment, and by paid positions rather than self-employment."

He noted the the only negative was a drop in factory employment.

"All told, a pleasant surprise after a string of generally soft job gains in the prior six months," said Shenfeld.

The report follows the addition of 12,500 mostly full-time jobs in April, when the unemployment rate held steady at 7.2 per cent.

Employment in May increased among youths and people aged 55 and over, while it was little changed for those aged 25 to 54, StatsCan said.

It said the rate of employment among students aged 20 to 24 that are returning to school in the fall was 59.9 per cent in May, similar to that of 12 months earlier.