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Canada adds 21,600 jobs in November, jobless rate stays at 6.9 percent

By David Ljunggren OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada added 21,600 jobs in November, the third consecutive month of modest gains, and the unemployment rate stayed at a nearly five-year low of 6.9 percent, Statistics Canada said on Friday. The increase, greater than the 12,000 new jobs predicted by market analysts, is unlikely to put pressure on the Bank of Canada to raise rates. The central bank - concerned about the amount of slack in the economy - left its overnight interest rate at a near record low on Wednesday and expressed concern that inflation could be weaker than it predicted. "I think the Bank of Canada is focusing more on the inflation print that the employment print, though this will be welcome news for them. I think it is unlikely to shift the tone that they left us with this week," said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank. A Reuters poll of primary dealers on Oct 24 predicted the Bank of Canada would keep rate unchanged until the second quarter of 2015. In November, Canada added 1,400 full-time and 20,000 part-time jobs. Virtually all the new positions were in the self-employed category. The average monthly job growth over the last six months, seen as a more reliable gauge of the trend in the job market, was 11,000, compared with 23,300 in the previous six-month period. The reason for the sharp drop is that May's 95,000 new jobs were not part of the most recent six-month average. The Canadian data were overshadowed by figures from the United States, which showed employers added a much greater-than-expected 203,000 new jobs to their payrolls last month. The Canadian dollar weakened to a session low against the U.S. dollar, dropping to C$1.0701 to the greenback, or 93.45 U.S. cents, compared to Thursday's close of C$1.0641, or 93.98 U.S. cents. The average hourly wage of permanent employees grew by 2.3 percent from November 2012, up from a year-on-year advance of 1.7 percent in October. "In terms of what will matter for the Bank of Canada, wage growth is fairly subdued, hours worked were down, so there's no real sense that there's underlying pressures on capacity," said David Tulk, chief Canada macro strategist at TD Securities. Employment in Canada's struggling manufacturing sector grew by 24,900 jobs in November. Employment in business, building and other support services advanced by 31,200. Since November 2012, the economy has added 179,100 jobs, an increase of 1.0 percent. The overall participation rate, which includes those working or actively looking for work, remained at 66.4 percent, the lowest since the 66.3 percent recorded in February 2002. (Additional reporting by Leah Schnurr, Andrea Hopkins and Solarina Ho in Toronto; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)