Canada’s labour market blew past expectations and wages rose faster, signaling there’s still some gas left in the jobs machine even as the economy gears down.

The country added 40,000 jobs in August, while the unemployment rate held steady at 5.5 per cent following three straight monthly increases, Statistics Canada reported Friday in Ottawa. The figures beat expectations for a gain of 20,000 positions and a jobless rate of 5.6 per cent, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

Rising workers’ compensation reflects some remaining tightness in the labour market, with wages accelerating to 5.2 per cent, beating expectations for a 4.7 per cent gain and up from 5 per cent a month earlier.

The Canadian dollar extended gains and Canada two-year yields rose to fresh session highs, topping through 4.62 per cent, after the report. The loonie traded 0.5 per cent stronger at 1.3613 against the U.S. dollar, outperforming many peers in the Group of 10 currencies.

Still, the data suggest the jobs market is looser than it was last year. Population growth outpaced the increase in employment in August and the employment rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 61.9 per cent. That’s the seventh straight month this year that population growth outpaced job gains.

Since January, employment has increased by 25,000 on average per month, while the population aged 15 and older grew by 81,000. Given this pace of population growth, monthly job gains of about 50,000 per month are required for the employment rate to stay constant.

The August data shows an economy that’s still churning out jobs even amid higher interest rates, albeit at a slower pace than its potential given the backdrop of record-high population growth. Governor Tiff Macklem and his officials held borrowing costs at five per cent on Wednesday, saying recent evidence suggests excess demand in the economy is easing. But wage growth remains a key concern.

Last month, total hours worked rose 0.5 per cent on a monthly basis, the fastest pace since February, and were up 2.6 per cent compared to a year earlier. That points to relatively strong economic momentum in the middle of the third quarter, when economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect gross domestic product to expand 0.7 per cent. Last week, preliminary data suggested gross domestic product was flat in July.

This is the first of two jobs reports before the next rate decision on Oct. 25. The majority of economists in a Bloomberg survey currently expect the bank to hold rates steady, and many see the bank already reaching its terminal point for rates this tightening cycle.

The involuntary part-time employment rate — another indicator of the balance between job supply and demand — was 18.9 per cent in August, up from 17.2 per cent a year earlier. That signals an easing of labour market demand.

Job gains were led by increases in professional and technical services, and construction. Some of the biggest decreases were in education services, manufacturing, and finance and real estate.

Employment rose in Alberta, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, while it fell in Nova Scotia and was little changed in other provinces.

In Ontario, the population aged 15 and older grew by 45,000, accounting for nearly half of total population growth in the country. With little change in employment and an increase in the size of working-age population, the employment rate in the province fell 0.3 percentage points to 61.7 per cent.

With assistance from Erik Hertzberg and Anya Andrianova.