Canada's economy created 23,000 jobs in December -- four times what was expected -- although the unemployment rate remained stable at 7.1 percent, the government said Friday.
Analysts had expected about 5,000 jobs to be created last month. A total of 36,000 jobs were lost in November, Statistics Canada said.
But the actual figures must be taken with a grain of salt because the job gains were for part-time workers and self-employed workers.
Employment increased in health care, education, finance, insurance, real estate and manufacturing.
The jobless rate fell in the hospitality industry, commerce and farming, the statistics agency said.
Canada's economy exited a short recession in the third quarter but remains fragile because of low prices for oil and raw materials, and debt-heavy households are spending less.
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