The unemployment rate fell last month to its lowest level since the country was within the grips of the global financial crisis, but wage growth stalled to its weakest in more than two decades, Statistics Canada said Friday.

Hourly wages expanded by 0.7 per cent in April, the slowest year−over−year growth since the federal agency started collecting that data in January 1997.

The country’s unemployment rate fell to 6.5 per cent last month, its lowest level since October 2008 as fewer youth searched for work. The drop in youth participation helped push the jobless rate down by 0.2 percentage points in April even though overall employment was almost unchanged.

The unemployment rate was 0.6 percentage points lower compared to a year earlier.

There were job gains of 3,200 last month, though Statistics Canada considers that statistically insignificant. A consensus of economists had expected the unemployment rate to stay at 6.7 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.

A closer look at the data showed a loss of 50,500 positions in the more−desirable private−sector category, while the public sector added 35,200 jobs. There were also 31,200 fewer full−time jobs last month, while the number of part−time positions grew by 34,300.

Compared to a year earlier, the data showed that Canada added 275,700 jobs, 189,600 of which were full−time positions.

The youth unemployment rate slipped 1.1 percentage points to 11.7 per cent last month with help from a 0.5−percentage−point drop in the youth participation rate.

A quick glance at unemployment rates for April, by province

Canada's national unemployment rate was 6.5 per cent in April. Here are the jobless rates last month by province (previous month in brackets):

  • Newfoundland and Labrador 14.0 per cent (14.9)
  • Prince Edward Island 10.3 (10.1)
  • Nova Scotia 8.3 (8.6)
  • New Brunswick 8.7 (8.4)
  • Quebec 6.6 (6.4)
  • Ontario 5.8 (6.4)
  • Manitoba 5.4 (5.5)
  • Saskatchewan 6.2 (6.0)
  • Alberta 7.9 (8.4)
  • British Columbia 5.5 (5.4)

— The Canadian Press

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