Canadian employment rose once again in December with the construction industry leading the charge, the latest Statistics Canada numbers reveal.

Across the country, employment increased by 104,000 -- a 0.5% hop up from November's numbers. At the same time, the unemployment rate slid down 0.1% to 5%, nearly reaching the record-low 4.9% seen in June and July.

According to a report from Chief Economist for BMO Doug Porter, these numbers blew past modest expectations for job growth, "cracking the century mark for job gains for the second time in three months."

Of the 104,00 employees gained in December, just over one-third (35,000) were people working in the construction industry. Porter says that this growth was "likely flattered by (mostly) mild winter weather in much of the country."

The gains were largely split between just two provinces, with Ontario was responsible for 16,000 of the additional construction employees, while Alberta had 13,000. Statistics Canada notes that investment in building construction edged up 0.2% across the country in October, with nearly all of that growth taking place in Ontario.

Zooming out to a year-over-year comparison, construction employment was up by 84,000 compared to December 2021 -- a 5.8% growth.

Transportation and warehousing accounted for another large piece of December's job growth, with employment in those sectors rising by 29,000. This more than recoups the loss of the sectors' 18,000 employees seen in September, and marks "the industry's first notable gain since November 2021," Statistics Canada says.

The remaining growth was spread across information, culture and recreation jobs (+25,000), professional, scientific and technical services (+23,000), accommodation and food services (+13,000), public administration (+11,000), and other services (+10,000).

As health care systems across the country continue to struggle with staffing shortages, health care and social assistance employment fell by 17,000 in December. The decline, which was concentrated in Ontario and Quebec, comes amidst record-high job vacancies in the industry.

As for who is taking on new jobs, the December numbers reveal a boost in employment among youth aged 15 to 24, accounting for two-thirds (69,000) of last month's gains. This more than made up for the 51,000 in employment losses this age group saw from July to September.

Employment for those aged 55 and over shot up by 31,000 in December. Statistics Canada notes, however, that the employment rate for this age group -- 36% -- "was little changed on a year-over-year basis in December, indicating that employment growth for this age group has generally kept pace with the increasing population of older Canadians over this period."

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