TORONTO -- Canada's economy turned in one of the strongest job creation months of the year in September, adding an eye-popping 52,100 new jobs, Statistics Canada said Friday.
The gain was the third biggest of the year and surprised the experts, which had expected a 10,000 pickup.
The economy has added an average of 21,600 jobs per month in the past six months. September saw 44,100 new full-time jobs and 8,000 part-time jobs. Last month's increase brought year-over-year job creation to 175,000.
The Canadian dollar jumped more than half a cent on the news to 102.62 U.S. cents
September's report was even stronger than August's 34,000 jobs increase, which were all part-time.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's office issued a statement saying he was "encouraged" by the latest Canadian gains, noting that they bring to 820,000 the number of new jobs added since July 2009. Flaherty said it was the best job creation record among Canada's fellow G-7 nations.
However, Statistics Canada said the jobless rate rose one-tenth of a point to 7.4 percent because more Canadians pounded the pavement last month, with 72,600 more people joining the labor force.
Economist Erin Weir, chair of the Progressive Economics Forum, said the jump in Canadians entering the workforce suggests many "are still waiting in the wings" for prospects to improve.
Economists also pointed out that the details were not as strong as the headline suggests, including the fact that two-thirds of the new jobs where in the self-employment category.
Scotiabank economist Derek Holt said that aggregate hours worked actually declined 0.3 percent despite there being more people working.
"It's hours worked that get people paid so this is a significant dent against the headline. It's not clear to me how this happened if the headline and full-time jobs were up so solidly," he said.
Still, the pop in new jobs was unexpected given that most economic indicators of the past few months have presented a picture of a domestic economy struggling to maintain momentum amid a general slowdown around the world.
Last month, the vast majority of new jobs were full-time and all in the private sector, although roughly two-thirds were in the self-employment category _ jobs that economists say are often lower-paying and less productive.
Statistics Canada said most of the new jobs were taken by workers in the core 25-54 age group, and mostly by men in the first notable increase in employment among men since March of last year.
"With this increase, the employment level for core-aged men is back to its pre-recession peak of October 2008," the agency said, although the rate of employment remains slightly below that of four years ago.
Regionally, most of the action occurred in Ontario, which saw an increase of 31,600 jobs. Statistics Canada said the biggest gains occurred in the retail and wholesale trade sectors, which saw some 34,000 jobs created, while the number of jobs in construction, which has been weak in recent months, jobs rose by 29,000.
Work in the information, culture and recreation industries saw an increase of about 24,000, and there were about 8,700 new agriculture jobs in the month.
Detracting from the positives was the loss of 19,000 workers in a general category called other services and a 17,000 decrease in business, building and other support services.