OTTAWA (CP) -- The Canadian economy's job-creation machine stalled in May as only 8,400 new jobs were added and full-time employment actually fell.
The loss of 32,200 full-time jobs was the largest decline in the category since June 2006.
Statistics Canada said the changes in employment in May were not enough to budge the country's official jobless rate from 6.1 percent, where it stood in April.
The jobs picture would have been considerably darker last month had not 40,600 part-time jobs been added to the rolls.
Still, the agency noted that over the past 12 months, the economy has generated 339,000 new jobs, growing total employment by about two per cent.
And despite the slower employment growth of the past two months, the country's participation rate remained at its record high of 68 per cent in May.
''Women aged 25 and over entered the labour market in large numbers in May,'' the agency said, adding 35,000 women to the workforce. '''The participation rate for adult women reached an all-time high of 62.4 percent.''
Another indication that Canada's job market remains relatively robust considering the downturn in the overall economy is that average hourly wages rose 4.8 percent from a year earlier, almost three times higher than the official 1.7 percent inflation rate.
Surprisingly, some of the biggest gains in the jobs market came in the battered manufacturing sector, which took another hit this week with the announcement of the pending closure of the General Motors truck plant in Oshawa, Ont.
The factory sector gained 34,200 jobs in May, with Quebec plants adding 13,700 jobs and Ontario's gaining 15,300 positions.
Still, Statistics Canada pointed out that manufacturers have shed 344,000 jobs overall since the slowdown began in November 2002.
Also on the positive side of the ledger, health care, social assistance and other services added employment in May. But agriculture and professional, scientific and technical services recorded losses.
May was also a good month for students, with older students aged 20 to 24 getting the summer jobs market off to a fast start as employment in the category grew by 29,000 compared to a year earlier. Most of that was part-time, however.
Regionally, Quebec was the only province with a significant employment increase, gaining 17,900 jobs in May.