Statistics Canada says the country created many more jobs in December than expected.  

The agency says 40,000 new jobs were created last month. Economists had expected an increase of just 5,000.  The National jobless rate is 7.1%

The strong growth was also reflected in the Capital region, which created 3,300 new jobs last month.  The combined Ottawa-Gatineau unemployment rate stands at 6.6%, down slightly from 6.7% in November, 

A closer look at the Ottawa-Gatineau market shows 2012 was very good for job creation.  Over the last 12 months, the local economy has generated 19,500 new jobs, for an increase of 2.8%.  

23-year-old Alexandra Belanger was among those job-seekers who landed full-time employment.  She’s working at the Second Cup on Rideau Street.

“There are less worries.  I can pay my rent,” says Belanger, “and not have to depend on my parents for it.”

According to Statistics Canada, the Retail, Wholesale sector led the way for Ontario’s job growth, which was pegged at 32,900 for the month of December.  Ontario led the way in job creation in December, accounting for 82 percent of the jobs in Canada.  24,000 jobs were created in sales, department stores, gas stations and other retail and wholesale sectors.  17,000 jobs were created in the finance, insurance and real estate division.  The health care sector added another 17,200 jobs and education added 9,600.

Leading the job loss for December in Ontario were those working in professional, scientific and technical services, such as architects, engineers, lawyers and computer programmers.  Job loss was at 29,800.  And jobs related to government at all levels, including federal and municipal, dropped 13,000 in Ontario in December.

Tony Morris was an engineer for 20 years with the Canadian Air Force.  He landed a full-time permanent position with General Dynamics Canada in Ottawa, after the company landed a $32-million dollar contract for communications network technology for NATO. 

“It’s been a transition for me coming from an air force background, “says Morris, “but so far it’s been great, pretty exciting.”

Morris says General Dynamics Canada is ramping up job creation in the coming months and is expecting to add another 40 jobs soon.

“We’ll be looking for a fair number of computer science and engineering-skilled individuals coming in the next few months here,” says Morris.

Invest Ottawa says it is seeing renewed growth in the technology sector in Ottawa. President Bruce Lazenby says many are hiring. “When I talk to large companies here, they’re looking for 100, 150 people.  We’ve given them the opportunity to post jobs on our website and there are a couple hundred there alone,” says Lazenby.

Lazenby says the start-up community in Ottawa is also getting more active.  “We’ve got a lot of people who are graduating university thinking, you know what?  I’m not going to get a job, I’m going to create a job, I’m going to start a business.”

Invest Ottawa expects to see more growth in 2013 with more investment opportunities available for technology start-ups.