OTTAWA (AP) — Canada unexpectedly gained 35,900 jobs in April as the unemployment rate remained at a seven-year high of 8 percent, Statistics Canada said Friday.

However, all of the job gains were in the self-employed category, which is normally a sign of labor market weakness.

Economists had forecast employment would be down about 50,000 in April.

“This report is clearly good news, but it’s premature to send the all-clear signal,” said economist Douglas Porter of BMO Capital Markets.

He said April’s improvement may be little more than a rebalancing from the deep losses of the previous five months, when employment dropped by 357,000.

Canada suffered its worst quarter of job losses in its history in first three months of the year. Canada lost 61,300 jobs in March, 83,000 in February and a record 129,000 in January.

Forecasters are predicting more job losses to come, suggesting that perhaps 600,000 Canadians will be unemployed before the recession ends, likely late this year.

Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney said earlier this week he expects Canada’s economy to continue to shrink until the last quarter of 2009.

“In the end, (April’s gain) doesn’t matter because it’s an aberration to what will be a full year of job losses, including further layoffs in the auto sector,” said Scotia Capital economist Derek Holt.

Since October, the economy has shed 321,000 net jobs and 356,000 employees. The difference has been the 1.3 percent growth in the self-employment category.

In a change from recent months, adult men had a pick-up of 25,000 jobs. Since October, men have taken big losses.

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