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B.C. adds 118,100 jobs in June

What happened: Province adds 118,100 jobs last month Why it matters: The big gains come as B.C. moves into next phase of economic restart plan B.C.
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What happened: Province adds 118,100 jobs last month

Why it matters: The big gains come as B.C. moves into next phase of economic restart plan

B.C. added 118,100 jobs in June as the province made its initial move into Phase 3 of its economic restart plan.

Data released Friday (July 10) from Statistics Canada reveals the province’s unemployment rate now stands at an even 13%, down from the 13.4% recorded a month earlier.

In Metro Vancouver, however, the unemployment rate grew 0.1 percentage points to 14.2% between May and June.

“There’s no question that this is related to the challenges of the service sector industry, of the challenges of the tourism industry, the challenges of not having international visitors,” B.C. Finance Minister Carole James said during a briefing following the release of the jobs data.

“You would by now, in Vancouver and in Victoria, being seeing cruise ships, you’d be seeing passengers unload, you would be seeing people [throughout] the downtown core and that’s just not possible.”

Canada added 953,000 jobs while unemployment dropped 1.4 percentage points to 12.3%.

James attributed the disparity between the national unemployment rate and B.C.’s unemployment rate to more British Columbians looking to enter the workforce during the pandemic.

The province’s biggest surge unfolded in the accommodation and food services sector, which added 54,800 jobs last month as restaurants opened and British Columbians began travelling throughout the province once again.

Other significant gains were witnessed in the professional, scientific and technical services sector (+17,600 jobs), wholesale and retail trade (+16,100 jobs), and health care and social assistance (+9,800 jobs).

Manufacturing, meanwhile, posted 6,800 job losses.

“From pre-virus levels, Ontario is still the laggard, with Alberta and B.C. next,” BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said in a note to investors. 

“On the flip side, provinces that were less affected by the virus have not surprisingly moved closer to normal levels, with New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan leading.”

He said the latest data shows a "solid second step on the road to recovery" but cautioned there is still a long way to go.

Porter expects gains in July numbers but added “after this initial, mechanical bounce, the next stages are likely to be much slower going.”

TD senior economist Brian DePratto said the June numbers indicate another step in the right direction. 

“There remains a long road ahead to regain the roughly 3 million jobs lost as a result of the pandemic, but the pace so far has defied expectations,” he said in a note to investors.

“This may be telling us that Canadians are becoming a bit more confident from a health perspective – recall that at the height of the pandemic, there was a massive increase in people who had stopped looking for work entirely. The generally improving new infection numbers provide hope that the labour market healing can continue.”

Similar to Porter, DePratto questioned the sustainability of the pace in job gains.

“There is the risk that what we've seen so far has been the ‘low-hanging fruit’ as operations that are able to safely re-open have done so,” DePratto said. 

“The pattern of gains will likely vary in the coming months as well. International travel restrictions are likely to remain in place for some time, with implications for those that tend to serve domestic versus international tourists, for instance.”

James said she wish she had a crystal ball but it remains difficult for the government to forecast when the pace of job gains will ease on the West Coast.

“It’s really an unknown at this stage. It’s why, as I mentioned, we have to really make sure that we’re being flexible, that we’re being responsive, that we’re following and looking at what the needs are,” she said.

“The volatility continues to be there and you see it when you talk to private-sector forecasters who all have a different view of where growth may or may not come.”

Updated July 10, 9:50 a.m. with comments from B.C. Finance Minister Carole James.

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