TORONTO (AP) --€” Canada's strong job creation performance in recent months slowed to a crawl in October, as the economy added a meager 1,800 jobs and the unemployment rate remained at 7.4 percent, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

The reporting agency said that employment in the private sector -- regarded as the most indicative of economic strength --€” fell by 20,300 jobs.

Those numbers were offset by strong gains of 36,900 in the public sector while the self-employment category fell by 14,900.

Economists had expected some softness in October after two stellar months in September and August that saw employment jump by 86,000.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty took comfort in the fact there was still some life in the labor market.

"While this month's numbers are modest, I'm pleased to see our economy continues to create jobs," he said in a statement. "We have more than 820,000 net new jobs created since July, 2009, with most of those full-time and in the private sector."

The October result brings the total of jobs created in Canada over the past 12 months to 229,000, all full-time, for a gain of 1.3 percent, slightly below the growth rate in the economy.

Statistics Canada said the biggest loss last month came in agriculture, which shed about 16,000 workers, while the biggest gain was in education services, which added 16,200. There was little change in the key industries of manufacturing, construction and natural resources.

Overall, the economy's goods producing industries lost 19,300 jobs, while the services sector added 21,000.

Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney earlier this week described Canada's labor market record since the 2008-09 recession as better than most industrially advanced countries, but still below par. He noted there are still more Canadians looking for work than jobs available and many Canadians in part-time work who desire full-time employment.