Unemployment rate falls as N.B. adds 4,000 jobs in December

New Brunswick's unemployment rate dropped in December as the province added more than 4,000 new positions.

Statistics Canada's latest labour force survey says the province added 2,700 full-time and 1,600 part-time jobs last month.

That helped to push the province's unemployment rate down by 0.5 percentage points to 7.8 per cent.

New Brunswick's labour force — those with a job or looking for work — also increased by 2,900 people.

Year-over-year, the agency says employment was up slightly in New Brunswick, but the unemployment rate fell by 1.5 percentage points due to a smaller labour force.

National unemployment rate reaches lowest mark in more than 40 years

The unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in more than 40 years as Canada closed out a calendar year that saw it produce jobs at a pace not seen since 2002.

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate dropped to 5.7 per cent in December, down from 5.9 per cent the month before, to reach its lowest mark since comparable data became available in 1976.

The unemployment reading fell last month as the economy generated 78,600 net new positions, including 23,700 full-time jobs.

The agency's labour force survey says employment in 2017 rose 2.3 per cent for its fastest growth rate in 15 years.

The economy added 422,500 jobs last year with the gains driven by 394,200 new full-time positions.

By region, Quebec and Alberta saw the biggest increases last month with each province adding more than 26,000 new jobs.

Quebec's unemployment rate fell 0.5 percentage points to 4.9 per cent, while Alberta's dropped 0.4 percentage points to 6.9 per cent.

In a separate report Friday, Statistics Canada says the country's merchandise trade deficit widened to $2.5 billion in November, compared with a $1.6-billion deficit the month before, as imports outgrew exports.

— with files from The Canadian Press