Canada’s economy shocked even the most optimistic observers, as the month of May saw 95,000 new jobs created across the country. This is the largest gain since 2002, over a decade ago.

Most Canadian economists had expected a jobs gain of about 15,000 for the past month. The actual number, which was reported by Statistics Canada, is more than six times this amount. The added jobs helped to lower the unemployment rate a tenth of a percentage point, to 7.1 percent.

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was cautiously optimistic about the new statistics, stating that “May jobs numbers are a good sign that our economic policies are helping steer the economy in the right direction. Even better, the jobs created in May were mainly full time and in the private sector – the types of jobs that will help support a sustained recovery (from the 2009 economic recession).”

According to economists with Scotiabank, one of Canada’s largest banks, if the US had experienced a similar growth rate it would amount to the equivalent of 1 million new jobs in a single month.

Many of the new jobs were filled by young people, an important step in creating job security for the country’s next generation of earners. In May, people between the ages of 15 and 24 took 54,000 of the jobs.

The construction industry also saw massive gains, creating 42,700 jobs, almost half of the total new positions. Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta saw the largest increase in this field.