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Full time work faded in 2016 as labour market rode wave of part time jobs

(iStock Photo)

The national labour market saw big gains in 2016 — but unlike recent years the net job growth was propelled by a surge in the less-desirable category of part-time work.

Statistics Canada’s year-end employment review shows the country added 153,700 net new part-time jobs last year and just 60,400 full-time positions — a number so low it was statistically insignificant.

The 2016 figure represents a stark shift from year-end results in the past two years, when the agency reported gains of 156,000 full-time jobs in 2014 and 147,000 in 2015.

The final number for 2016 would have shown a loss in full-time work had it not been for a December gain of 81,300 new positions in the category — the biggest one-month increase in full-time jobs in almost five years.

The agency’s latest labour force survey says that, overall, Canada beat economists’ expectations in December by adding 53,700 net jobs, while the unemployment rate crept up to 6.9 per cent from 6.8 per cent.

Statistics Canada also released numbers that showed the country’s trade balance with the world in November recorded its first monthly surplus in over two years — cutting the trade deficit nearly in half to $526 million from about $1 billion.