OTTAWA: The Canadian economy unexpectedly shed 7,200 jobs in March, Statistics Canada data showed on Friday, while the unemployment rate held steady at 5.8 percent.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a marginal gain of 1,000 jobs in March, following outsized gains in the last two months, and no change in the unemployment rate. Despite the drop in March, employment rose by 116,000 jobs in the first quarter.

The economy added 1,600 goods-producing sector jobs, and shed 8,800 services sector jobs. Full-time jobs dropped by 6,400 from February to March, while part-time jobs fell 900, the data showed.

The job numbers follow a decision last month by the Bank of Canada to hold interest rates steady and take a more dovish tone on future hikes. The bank has increased rates five times since July 2017.

The average year-over-year wage growth of permanent employees – a figure closely watched by the central bank – was 2.3 percent in March, up from 2.2 percent in February.

Copyright Reuters, 2019