(Adds details of release, background)
OTTAWA, Jan 5 (Reuters) - The Canadian economy added almost 80,000 jobs for the second month in a row in December on a surge in part-time employment, and the jobless rate dipped to a 41-year low of 5.7 percent, Statistics Canada said on Friday.
The gain of 78,600 positions far exceeded the expectations of analysts, who in a Reuters poll had forecast a modest gain of 1,000 jobs from November. The unemployment rate is the lowest since comparable data became available in January 1976.
Part-time employment jumped by 54,900 jobs while 23,700 full-time positions were added. The economy created 79,500 jobs in November, with 49,900 of those being part-time.
December's gains were focused on the service sector, where employment rose by 72,600, in part due to increased hiring in finance and educational services. The goods sector added just 6,000 jobs, pulled down by a decline of 3,600 positions in manufacturing.
On a year-over-year basis employment increased by 422,500, or 2.3 percent, the most since November 2007. The six-month average for employment growth was 39,400 jobs, up from 33,900 in November.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)