The latest job numbers from Statistics Canada show that our province saw one of the biggest increases in employment in the country last month.

Alberta surpassed the predictions of analysts, adding over 26,000 jobs with a majority of those being full-time positions. That number makes up over half the jobs created last year.

As a result, the unemployment rate dropped by 0.4 percent to 6.9 percent, the lowest since October 2015.

In even better news, Statistics Canada says that the numbers released on Friday are seasonally adjusted, so they don’t even include the artificial gain from Christmas positions.

According to the report, most of the growth came from the accommodation and food service industries, but positions were also added in natural resources as well.

The report also showed that the City of Calgary’s unemployment dropped as well, down to 7.5 percent.

Todd Hirsch, chief economist with ATB Financial, called the report ‘astoundingly positive’.

“It’s the strongest report we’ve had in many, many months here in Alberta.”

He says that when you look at 2017 overall, Alberta was moving in the right direction.

“Just with oil being back above $50, nearing $60 a barrel, moving upwards through the month of December, I think that just gave a shot of optimism to a lot of businesses. Maybe businesses that had laid off a lot of people in ’15 and ’16 now are gradually starting to see some demand pick back up.”

During the recession, about 150,000 jobs were lost and about a third of those have been restored since then.

Hirsch believes that the increase as we continue moving through the year.

Alberta's Finance Minister Joe Ceci says that this is the third month of positive growth in the province and says he hopes it is the beginning of a trend.

"As this recovery lays in and becomes more broad-based across all sectors, my view and my hope is we'll see the unemployment rate continue to drop. I know that there are many unemployed Albertans out there still and they want to be back at work supporting their families and themselves and we are going to continue doing the things we've done to assist them through this recovery."

Nationally, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.7 percent from 5.9 percent, the lowest it’s been since 1976.

Statistics Canada says Canada added approximately 79,000 jobs.