There were 3,700 more people working in Ottawa-Gatineau last month than in February 2011. All the gains were on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River.
The increase in the number of jobs failed to keep pace with growth in the local labour force - itself regarded as a positive economic indicator - which caused the unemployment rate to increase 10 basis points to six per cent.
February marks is the fifth straight month the National Capital Region added jobs. There are currently approximately 709,600 people working in Ottawa-Gatineau, a 3.5-per-cent increase over February 2011.
"The growth is fairly solid," says Statistics Canada analyst Vincent Ferrao.
The overall increase comes despite ongoing reductions in public administration positions, which include many federal civil service jobs.
There are 164,500 people working in public administration, compared to a 177,300 a year earlier, according to Mr. Ferrao.
The biggest year-over-year gain came in the professional, scientific and technical services sector, which includes engineers, accountants and architects.
There are 76,200 people working in that sector, compared to 57,400 in February 2011.
Increases were also recorded in the hospitality, restaurant, health care, social assistance and business services sectors.
There are 1,400 more people working in the local technology industry than a year ago.
Nationally, 2,800 positions lost in February, another extension to the weak numbers that have continued since last summer.The unemployment rate dropped to 7.4 per cent as more people stopped looking for jobs, according to Statistics Canada.
Economists had expected a modest 15,000 pick-up in the month, if only because the last seven months has seen job creation slow to a trickle.
And for the fifth straight month, Canadian youth in the 15-24 age category took it on the chin, dropping another 26,800 jobs. A report by TD Bank on Thursday showed there are 250,000 fewer young Canadians working today than was the case before the recession hit.
The drop in the unemployment rate occurred not because the economy created jobs, but because the number of Canadians looking for employment fell by 37,900, all in Ontario.
Labour market contraction at a time of rising population is normally associated with discouraged workers giving up on finding employment.
After strong job growth following the 2008-09 recession, Canada has seen this critical aspect of the economy slow and then essentially stall.
Statistics Canada noted that employment had risen by 121,000 over the past 12 months, but only about 26,000 in the past seven months, or an average of just over 3,000 a month.
Economists estimate Canada needs to churn out between 15,000 and 20,000 jobs each month just to keep up with demand from increases in population.
The biggest losses in February came in the retail and wholesale trade industries, which shed about 37,000 workers, followed by 22,000 job declines in both transportation and warehousing, and health care and social assistance.
Meanwhile, employment in finance, insurance, real estate and leasing rose by 41,000, reversing half the declines in the industries over the past five months. There were also smaller gains in educational services, business, building and other support services, natural resources, construction and manufacturing.
Regionally, six out of 10 provinces experienced job losses in February, although none were large. The only significant movement in the provincial numbers was Ontario's 40,500 decline in the labour force, which helped drop the unemployment rate half a point to 7.6 per cent.
-With reports by the Canadian Press