* Canada records modest job growth for third month in a row
* Jobless rate stays at near five-year low
* Almost all the new jobs were part-time
* Canada data overshadowed by upbeat U.S. jobs figures
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Canada created 21,600 jobs in November, the third straight month of modest employment increases and a number that underscores the lack of pressure on the central bank to raise interest rates.
The increase in jobs reported by Statistics Canada on Friday, however, was much greater than the 12,000 forecast by market analysts. The unemployment rate stayed at a nearly five-year low of 6.9 percent.
The Bank of Canada - concerned about the amount of slack in the economy - kept its overnight interest rate at a near record low on Wednesday and expressed concern that inflation could be weaker than it has predicted.
“The Bank of Canada is focusing more on the inflation print than the employment print, though this will be welcome news for them. I think it is unlikely to shift the tone that they left us with this week,” said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank.
A Reuters poll on Nov 28 predicted the Bank of Canada would keep its main policy rate unchanged at 1 percent until the second quarter of 2015.
The November job gains were mostly part-time - 20,000 compared with only 1,400 full-time - but Finance Minister Jim Flaherty expressed little concern about the balance.
“I think it’s a function of seasonality ... that (at) certain times of the year more people work part-time than at other times of the year. Overall, the trend is good,” he told reporters in Markham, Ontario.
The average monthly job gain over the past six months, which is seen as a more reliable gauge of the trend, was 11,000, compared with 23,300 in the previous six-month period. May’s 95,000 new jobs swelled the average in the first half of the year.
The Canadian figures were overshadowed by data from the United States, which showed employers added a much greater-than-expected 203,000 new jobs to their payrolls last month.
The Canadian dollar initially weakened against the U.S. dollar after the release of the data, dropping to C$1.0701 to the greenback, or 93.45 U.S. cents, compared with Thursday’s close of C$1.0641, or 93.98 U.S. cents. It later recovered to $1.0638, or 94.00 U.S. cents.
Statscan said the average hourly wage of permanent employees rose by 2.3 percent from November 2012, up from a year-on-year advance of 1.7 percent in October.
“In terms of what will matter for the Bank of Canada, wage growth is fairly subdued, hours worked were down, so there’s no real sense that there’s underlying pressures on capacity,” said David Tulk, chief Canada macro strategist at TD Securities.
Employment in Canada’s struggling manufacturing sector increased by 24,900 jobs in November. Employment in business, building and other support services advanced by 31,200.
Since November 2012, the economy has added 179,100 jobs, an increase of 1.0 percent.
The overall participation rate, which includes those working or actively looking for work, remained at 66.4 percent, the lowest since the 66.3 percent recorded in February 2002.
“The longer-term trend is still that Canadian employers are creating barely enough jobs to keep pace with population growth,” said Erin Weir, an economist at the United Steelworkers union.