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Canada saw its jobless rate stay at 5.6 percent in December with a growth of 9,300 net new jobs, according to Statistics Canada on Friday.

The December rate followed a gain of 94,100 net jobs in November, the country’s largest monthly increase since March 2012. For the second straight month, the country’s jobless rate was at its lowest level since January 1976.

Canada increased 163,300 new jobs in 2018, a rise of 0.9 percent, which was slower compared with 2.3 percent in 2017 and 1.2 percent in 2016.

Employment growth in 2018 was mainly in the services sectors, which provided 151,000 jobs compared to an increase of just 12,300 in goods-producing industries.

However, wage growth showed a weak reading of 1.49 percent last month, which was well below inflation.

The average hourly wage growth for permanent employees was 1.46 percent in November and it has decelerated steadily since its May peak of 3.9 percent.

The Bank of Canada has been monitoring wage growth ahead of its interest-rate decisions as it tries to determine how well indebted households can absorb higher borrowing costs.

The Canadian central bank, which is expected to announce an benchmark rate announcement next Wednesday, has raised its rate five times since the summer of 2017 in response to country’s improving economic performance. Enditem

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