BC employment hits first-quarter speed bump

Extending a recent hiring lull, BC employment fell by 0.2% (down 3,900 persons) from February in March, albeit with a rebound in full-time job growth.

While the headline drop was insignificant, employment has declined over the past three months with no net gains since the summer.

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The flat employment trend has whittled away the strong year-over-year growth trends observed through most of 2017 to just over 1%.

Nonetheless, the labour market environment remains tight, which is likely one reason for low hiring. BC’s unemployment rate remained at 4.7%, which was by far the lowest in the country and below the national average of 5.8%. Labour force participation points to a labour market operating near capacity. Plenty of jobs remain unfilled, with BC consistently showing the highest job vacancy rate in the country. Shortages are boosting wage pressures, which rose 5.6% year-over-year.

Central 1 Credit Union forecasts full-year average employment growth of 2.2% this year and 1.4% in 2019 and an unemployment rate of about 4.4%.

Bryan Yu is deputy chief economist at Central 1 Credit Union.

Bryan Yu / Business In Vancouver

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