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B.C. employment takes a hit as province loses 2,600 jobs in June

Unemployment rate jumps by 0.6 percentage points to 5.6%
B.C.'s construction industry lost 6,800 jobs in June, according to Statistics Canada. | Chung Chow, BIV

B.C.’s recent streak of soft employment numbers continued in June as the province shed 2,600 jobs and the unemployment rate ticked upward, according to Statistics Canada data released Friday.

The province started off the year relatively strong, adding 8,000 jobs in January.

But labour demand on the West Coast has cooled since then, with the addition of 6,700 jobs in February and the loss of 100 jobs in March. Those losses were followed by gains of 2,100 jobs in April and 1,400 jobs in May.

The unemployment rate sat at 4.2 per cent in January but has since grown to 5.6 per cent as of June – up 0.6 percentage points from a month earlier.

Meanwhile, Canada as a whole gained 60,000 jobs last month as the unemployment rate ticked up by 0.2 percentage points to 5.4 per cent.

B.C.’s losses were most acutely felt in construction (-6,800 jobs), retail/wholesale (-2,400 jobs) and transportation (-2,400).

The biggest gains were in health care (+8,200 jobs), manufacturing (+5,500 jobs) and finance/real estate (+4,800 jobs).

“The June labour market data was mixed but shouldn't be enough to prevent the Bank of Canada from following through with a second straight 25 basis point interest rate hike at the next policy decision next week,” Nathan Janzen, assistant chief economist at the Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RY), said in a note referring to the national numbers. 

“There are still signs that the economic backdrop is softening. Consumer delinquency rates are edging higher, job openings are edging lower and wage growth is slowing.” 

But he added the Bank of Canada likely planned more than one interest rate hike when it ended a short pause in increases last month. 

TD Bank (TSX:TD) senior economist Leslie Preston also anticipates a rate hike next week.

“We expect the only modest cooling in inflation in wages will tip the [Bank of Canada] in favour of another 25-basis-point hike,” she said in a note. “However, if they opt to skip a meeting, their tone is likely to remain hawkish, and a September hike would remain on the table.”