Employment boomed across the country in March, surging past the 10,000 jobs economists had predicted to 82,300 in a show of unexpected strength, particularly in downtrodden Ontario and Quebec.

Ontario saw an employment increase of 46,000 and Quebec picked up 36,000 jobs during the month.

With virtually stagnant job numbers over the past five months, the dramatic rise in March lowered the unemployment rate to 7.2 per cent from 7.4. Most of the new jobs were full-time (70,000), which also signals growing confidence in the economy.

"I think now we're finally getting a sense that maybe some of those international risks are dissipating and the U.S. is gaining a bit of steam," deputy chief economist for TD Financial Derek Burleton told CTV News Channel Thursday.

"The kind of bounce-back we saw today suggests the employment market isn't dead in Canada, that there is a pulse," he said.

But the jobs boom may be a one-time event, he said.

It's more likely the country will see gains of about 15,000 jobs going forward and not a lot of decline in the overall unemployment rate, Burleton said.

While the economy isn't booming south of the border, it's gaining some traction, he said.

The U.S. jobs report will be released Friday. It's had three consecutive months of 200,000-plus employment increases.

March job numbers also boosted the loonie in morning trading, with it up 0.29 of a cent to 100.65 cents US.

The report also showed private-sector gains outpaced government jobs two-to-one and the weaker self-employment category only consisted of about one-quarter of new jobs.

"Businesses hire when they feel good about the future and there's just been a lot of clouds around the external environment in Europe . . . economists are feeling a bit better about the near-term outlook for Canada," Burleton said.

The numbers also prop up recent news of gaining strength in the small-business sector, he said.

Small businesses tend to hire when governments get their fiscal houses in order, said Ted Mallett, chief economist for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

“That’s really the much bigger impact on small business job creation,” he told CTV News Channel.

“They feel if governments are more stabilized, they’re not running large deficits and that’s actually a good sign for the economy, therefore they can start hiring,” Mallett said

Slower growth in government is actually better for the economy, he said.

Ottawa is chopping 19,000 public sector jobs over the next three years, with about 7,000 being eliminated through attrition.

The new jobs were also broadly spread throughout industries.

There were significant increases in health care and social assistance, up 32,000; information, culture and recreation, an increase of 28,000; and public administration, 15,000.

Employment in the natural resources sector rose, and there were even modest gains in manufacturing and construction, two industries that have suffered recent set-backs.

The key outlier was education services, which dropped 25,000, reversing increases the past two months.

Employment for young workers, those in the 15-to-24 age category, rose sharply by about 39,000. That dropped the unemployment rate in the group by 0.8 points to 13.9 per cent.

Last month's addition brings total net job creation to almost 200,000 over the past 12 months.

Regionally, all four Atlantic provinces and British Columbia had a decrease in employment in March, although the losses were relatively minor.

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