National unemployment rate unchanged, Nova Scotia's drops in March

The economy delivered 32,300 net new jobs last month as Canada generated a rush of full-time work that helped hold the national unemployment rate at a record low.

Statistics Canada says the jobless rate stayed at 5.8 per cent in March for a second consecutive month, and for the third time since December, to match its lowest level since the agency started measuring the indicator in 1976.

The agency says the labour force produced 68,300 full-time positions last month and shed 35,900 part-time jobs.

However, the survey shows that 19,600 of the new employee positions were created in the public sector, while the number of private-sector workers declined by 7,000.

The report also found that average hourly wage growth, which has been under close scrutiny by the Bank of Canada ahead of interest-rate decisions, strengthened in March to 3.3 per cent, up from 3.1 per cent the previous month.

Central Canada saw the biggest gains in March as the two largest provinces, Ontario and Quebec, each added more than 10,000 net new positions.

In Nova Scotia, the unemployment rate dropped half a percentage point to 7.4 per cent in March.

The province actually had a net loss of 1,300 jobs, 400 part-time and 900 full-time, but the labour force also shrank by 3,900.

(With files from James Faulkner)