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The latest labour force survey showed 4,900 more full-time jobs when compared to January 2017.

Porter said weak jobs report in January make it more likely the Bank of Canada will move slowly on more hikes to interest rates.

The area's unemployment rate remained unchanged however, at 6.8 per cent, because the number of people working or seeking work also fell last month.

Even with the decline, Canada has had a strong run of job creation that's generated 414,100 full-time jobs over a 12-month period.

The number was influenced by a drop of 137,000 part-time positions, the largest single-month slump on record. Most of the other provinces also shouldered part-time losses, with Quebec shedding 31,000 positions.

A payback was due for Canada's labor market in January, after a stellar performance in 2017 that saw the biggest increase in jobs since 2002.

The decrease of 88,000 jobs fell well short of economists' forecasts for a gain of 10,000 and made for the biggest decline since January 2009 when the economy was dealing with the global financial crisis.

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The employment drop coincided with an increase in the minimum wage in Canada's largest province - Ontario.

Economists are always cautious about reading too much into one-month of numbers in a data series that can be volatile.

The hike was driven by an increase to the labour force and the number of people claiming unemployment.

In Ontario, it's thought that some of the part-time job losses were the result of a hike in Ontario's minimum wage which increased to $14 an hour from $11.60 an hour as of January 1, 2018.

"Ontario is leading Canada in economic growth", he added, noting the jobless rate has been below the national average for 34 consecutive months.

"One of the positives in today's release was the fact that wage growth picked up", said Craig Alexander, chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada. Halifax had an unemployment rate of 6.8 per cent in January, down from seven per cent in December. The survey also detected stronger wage growth in January of 3.3 per cent, which also led some to point out possible connections to Ontario.

It wasn't just Ontario that saw wage growth of more than 3 per cent. Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia recorded increases over that level, with the westernmost province's wages rising almost 4 per cent.


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