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Northeast B.C. unemployment at 5% in May

B.C.'s economy bounced back last month with the addition of 5,100 jobs last month, 700 of them in the northeast
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B.C.’s construction industry was the biggest winner in May, adding 13,100 jobs.

Employment grew by 700 jobs in Northeast B.C. in May, according to the latest estimates from Stats Canada.

There were 36,200 people employed in the region last month out of a labour force of 38,100, according to the monthly labour force survey.

At the same time, there were 1,900 people unemployed, up 100 month-over-month from April, pushing regional unemployment up to 5%.

The number of people working in the region has fluctuated since the start of 2022; from 37,300 in January, to 36,200 in February, to 35,400 in March, to 35,500 in April.

Year-over-year, employment is down from May 2021, when 38,600 people were employed and unemployment was reported at 4.5%.

The region's labour force remains muted after having shrunk during the pandemic — down from 40,400 at this time last year. The percentage of available workers participating in the labour force also remains down, from 73.6% last May to 68.6% last month.

Unemployment in B.C.:

  • North Coast and Nechako - 4.1
  • Vancouver Island and Coast - 4.3
  • Kootenay - 4.3
  • Northeast - 5.0
  • Lower Mainland Southwest - 5.0
  • Thompson-Okanagan - 6.2
  • Cariboo - 5.2

Province-wide, B.C.'s economy bounced back last month with the addition of 5,100 jobs.

Food services and accommodation added 6,800 jobs from April to May, while the information, culture and recreation category saw an uptick of 7,400 jobs during that same period.

The addition of all these jobs is putting that much more pressure on an already extremely tight labour market, with the province’s unemployment rate dropping 0.9 percentage points to a three-year low of 4.5%.

Canada’s unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage points to a record-low 5.1% last month as the national economy added 40,000 jobs.

“As we commence the ritual of filling patios and hit the road for overdue vacations, employers continue to search for workers to meet [heightened] demand. This has job vacancy rates at record levels, making it clear that the Canadian economy is operating beyond full employment,” TD senior economist James Orlando said in a note.

He added that the positive jobs numbers across the country will “only continue to fuel speculation” that the Bank of Canada will be hiking its overnight more aggressively in the coming months.

The central bank kicked off the month raising the key rate 50 basis points to reach 1.5%. The Bank of Canada is widely expected to hike the key rate another 50 basis points in July.

Meanwhile, B.C.’s construction industry was the biggest winner last month, adding 13,100 jobs.

Transportation/warehousing shed 14,300 positions, while the province’s manufacturing sector lost 10,700 positions.

StatsCan data also revealed average hourly wages jumped 3.9% between May 2021 and May 2022. That's the fastest rate of acceleration in more than a year.

"With wage growth now also accelerating, the Bank of Canada will feel increased pressure to continue raising interest rates," CIBC economist Andrew Grantham said in a note.

— with files from Tyler Orton/Business in Vancouver


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