Canada’s economy added 52,000 new jobs in September, the third-largest gain of the year, surprising economists who had predicted a figure of 10,000.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he was "encouraged" by the news and said 820,000 jobs have now been added since July 2009, the strongest job creation record in the G7.

September's gain pushed year-over-year job creation to 175,000.

Carlos Leitao, the chief economist at Laurentian Bank Securities, told CTV’s Power Play that while job creation in Canada over the past 12 months is “far from spectacular” when looked at on a year-over-year basis, “it is certainly good and definitely better than our neighbours south of the border.

“We were expecting a much more subdued pace of job creation,” he added.

Ontario saw the most significant job growth with 31,600 new jobs added.

Most new jobs were created in the retail and wholesale trade sectors, with 34,000 new jobs added, while 29,000 new jobs were created in construction, according to Statistics Canada

About 24,000 jobs were added to the information, culture and recreation industries, and some 8,700 to the agriculture industry.

Male workers aged 25-54 were the biggest winners when it came to job creation.

"With this increase, the employment level for core-aged men is back to its pre-recession peak of October 2008," Statistics Canada said.

However, the job gains did not slow the unemployment rate, which increased to 7.4 per cent, or one-tenth of a point, as 72,600 Canadians entered the labour force.

And aggregate work hours were actually down 0.3 per cent, Scotiabank's Derek Holt pointed out.

"It's hours worked that get people paid so this is a significant dent against the headline. It's not clear to me how this happened if headline and full-time jobs were up so solidly," he said.

Also, 19,000 workers in a general category called other services lost jobs, as did 17,000 workers in business, building and other support services.

In addition, two-thirds of the new jobs where in the self-employment category, a figure that dampened some economists’ enthusiasm.

“You’re never sure exactly what those self-employed jobs are,” Leitao said.

However, he added that the income generated from employment is fairly steady.

“There’s a myth that all the new jobs here are in low wage occupations. That’s not quite the case. Fairly high wage occupations are getting their fair share of new jobs,” he said. “So overall a good picture in Canada.”

Economists have recently predicted Canada’s economy would struggle in the face of expected downturns in the United States, Europe and China.

With files from The Canadian Press