The Canadian economy defied expectations and actually gained new jobs in August, according to the latest release from Statistics Canada.

The StatsCan Labour Force Survey released Friday showed thousands of new jobs were created last month, largely in retail, finance and the construction industry.

While economists thought the economy would lose 15,000 jobs in August, 27,100 jobs were created.

Both the Conservatives and the Liberals played down the encouraging numbers, with an election showdown brewing in Ottawa.

Conservatives have been as hesitant to declare Canada in recovery as they were to say the country was in a recession, and say an election in the fall would derail a recovery.

"Any potential recovery at this stage is fragile," Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Friday in London while attending a meeting of the G-20's finance ministers. "We are far from through these uncertain times."

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has said he will attempt to bring down the government at his first opportunity, but denies that engineering an election is a political ploy that would hurt Canada's economy.

"There's nothing (in an election) that would jeopardize our recovery . . . our recovery is halting and slow under this government, and I think we could accelerate our recovery and make it more effective," he told reporters in Vancouver Friday.

Ignatieff said despite the positive job numbers, the economy is "still struggling" and noted the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said Canada will have the "slowest and most painful recovery of any country."

Industry Minister Tony Clement said Friday he welcomed the job numbers, and said it's important for Canada to stay on the Tories' economic course.

More job details

Unemployment also rose, inching up by 0.1 per cent to an 11-year high of 8.7 per cent. But that gain was largely due to the fact that more people entered the market and were looking for work, Kane said.

The unexpectedly positive employment news provided a boost to markets.

Since employment peaked in October 2008 -- just as the recession began to set in -- total employment has dropped by 2.3 per cent, or 387,000 jobs.

But in the past five months only 31,000 jobs have been lost, suggesting the rate of decline is slowing as the economy begins to stabilize.

But the news was not all good. All of the new jobs were part-time positions, and the number of full-time jobs in Canada fell by 3,500 in August.

Job losses in August were largely in business, building and other support services, education services and manufacturing, which lost another 17,300 workers.