Construction jobs help boost B.C. labour market in April

posted on May 24, 2019

By BIV News |

BC’s labour market had another solid showing in April.

Employment inched higher for a sixth straight month, rising 0.2% or 5,900 persons to 2.56 million and led by a full-time gain of 1.5% or nearly 30,000 positions.

On an industry basis, net gains were driven by a significant gain in construction employment (up 3.4% or 7,900 persons) and business/building/other support services (up 3.1% or 3,500 persons). In contrast, employment in health care and social assistance fell 1.7% (or 5,300 persons).

While monthly employment growth trailed the stronger countrywide increase of 0.6% – led by strong gains in Ontario, Alberta and Quebec – gains over the past year have been robust. Year-over-year employment growth in B.C. was 3.3% (82,100 persons), second only to Prince Edward Island, and above the impressive national gain of 2.3%.

The broad picture of the labour market remains strong. The unemployment rate came in at 4.6%, which was lowest among provinces. Second was Quebec at 4.9%, with a national rate of 5.7%. Labour force participation rates and employment as a share of the working-age population (employment rate) are at cycle highs and levels prior to the 2008-09 financial crisis. Strong labour demand is keeping more people employed and engaged in the labour force.

One dour data point is wages. Average hourly wage rates rose a scant 0.5% year-over-year and decelerated over the past year despite the tight labour market. That said, conditions point to a continued rise in wages.

B.C. housing starts continued to defy gravity in April. Despite a severe drag in home sales, starts posted the strongest performance in over a year. Total urban-area starts reached a seasonally adjusted annualized pace of 49,188 units. This was a 50% increase from March’s 32,500 units and was led by a sharp rebound in combined apartment and townhome starts.

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