The Canadian economy added a surprising 61,000 jobs in September, all of it in full-time employment, Statistics Canada reported Friday.
The job growth helped push the country's unemployment rate down to 7.1 per cent, the lowest since December 2008.
Economists had been expecting 15,000 jobs to be added, and for the unemployment rate to remain steady at 7.3 per cent.
The country added 63,800 full-time jobs, but part-time employment slipped by 2,900.
But beyond the eye-popping headline number, the employment details "were much softer and more mixed in the report than the headline suggests on multiple counts," Scotiabank economist Derek Holt noted.
Many of the jobs came from public sector job growth, while the private sector lost almost 15,000 jobs. Self-employment rose by 38,900, "and we always treat this category with skepticism," Holt said. "Many self-employed jobs are vital contributions to a small-business based economy, but the volatility in this component and its tendency to report a pickup in self-reporting during soft spots in the economy make us doubtful that such a heavy role in lifting the headline is with substance."
And despite the job growth, the actual number of hours worked declined by 0.3 per cent. That's a troubling sign for GDP, since it's calculated based on the number of hours worked times the productivity of the labour force, Holt noted.
Statistics Canada said job increases were notable in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
The federal agency said job gains were spread across a number of industries, with educational services adding 38,000 positions with the start of the new school year.
The professional, scientific and technical services sector gained 36,000 jobs. Gains were also seen in accommodation and food services, natural resources, and public administration.
Employment fell by 35,000 in the finance, insurance, real estate and leasing sector, while manufacturing employment slipped by 24,000 for the month.