Canada’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.5% in February after 337,000 positions were added to the workforce -- more than doubling the initial projection, Statistics Canada reported Friday morning.

The unemployment rate is even lower than it was 25 months ago before the COVID-19 pandemic began, when the economy was robust and the jobless rate was 5.7%. Moreover, it fell shy of the all-time record of 5.4% in May 2019.

Year over year employment changeStatistics Canada

The StatCan results are promising in light of the recent COVID-induced lockdown that began just before Christmas, the suddenness of which drew comparisons to March 2020, and resulting in considerable job losses in January before rebounding a month later.

The food and accommodation sector was among the hardest hit areas of the economy, but it rebounded by 12.6%, with 114,000 jobs created last month. The culture and recreation sector saw a 9.9% increase in jobs, totalling about 73,000 creations. Goods-producing employment also saw a gain of 44,000 new jobs.

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The figures also revealed that the number of hours worked improved by 3.6% year-over-year last month, surpassing even pre-pandemic levels, while the hourly wage rose by 3.1 for a gain of $0.92.

The unemployment rate for youth aged 15-24 declined to 10.9%, and for “core-aged” women and men down to 4.4% and 4.3%, respectively.

StatCan’s data showed that the private sector by far and wide led the recovery with 347,000 jobs gained, for a 2.8% increase after losses of 206,000 in January.

Full-time jobs rose by 0.8% to 122,000 new jobs, while part-time jobs increased by 6.2% to 215,000 new jobs.

In March 2020, Canada’s unemployment rate had risen to 7.9% from 5.7% from a month earlier, as the looming pandemic was already rattling confidence, and a month after that it had surged to 13% before reaching the pandemic-high of 13.4% in May.