Medicine Hat's unemployment rate hit 7.7 per cent in January

Economists had expected the addition of 5,000 jobs for the month.							Postmedia

Although more people are working past 65 than they once did, the majority of seniors do leave the workforce. "That blew past expectations for a modest 5,000 gain", said Royce Mendes, an economist with CIBC Economics.

Overall, employment gains were driven entirely by private sector employees while the number of self-employed decreased.

The unemployment rate in January was 5.5 percent compared to 4.7 percent in December of 2018.

That increase - 16,000 workers - was driven by younger people, Statistics Canada said.

"As demonstrated in the newest results, higher wages, low unemployment and good jobs in British Columbia show that people are at the centre of our strong and stable economy".

Provincially, unemployment climbed to 6.8 per cent from 6.4 per cent in December 2018.

The Bank of Canada has been monitoring wage growth ahead of its interest-rate decisions as it tries to determine how well indebted households can absorb higher borrowing costs. The central bank does focus on a reading called "wage common", which incorporates payroll data from several sources, not just from the labour force survey.

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She said the struggles of energy-producing provinces, which began with the late-2014 oil slump, have been a big factor that has dragged down national wage-growth numbers.

In a note to clients Friday, CIBC Chief Economist Royce Mendes wrote the latest job readings were "a vehicle stuck on one of Canada's clogged highways: speeding up then slowing down just to speed back up again".

The region also lost 700 full-time jobs and gained 400 part-time jobs month-over-month.

But analysts warned the 52,800 job bump among youth may simply be catch-up after losses in previous months, noting the unemployment rate for youth was little changed at 11.2 percent as more looked for work.

That's a jump of 0.4 per cent from last month.

"Wages continued to rise in January, with B.C. among the top provinces for year-over-year growth".

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