Thursday, August 23, 2012

BC Labour Market Forecast Aug. 2012


Aug 22, 2012/ Troy Media/ – B.C.’s labour market gave back a substantial portion of the job gains recorded since February, as estimated employment fell by 0.6 per cent (or 14,500 persons) from June to a seasonally-adjusted 2.31 million persons in July.

While declines were statistically significant and suggest real erosion in the labour market in July, some of the decline was offset by an improvement in job quality as full-time employment gained.

Employment losses were entirely concentrated in the part-time sector, which shed 24,100 persons (4.8 per cent) from June, which contrasted with a gain of 9,600 full-time employed individuals (0.5 per cent). Full-time employment has continued to trend higher in 2012 and has fully recovered to pre-recession levels.

Declines in part-time employment may reflect a shift of part-time workers to full-time opportunities, or part-time jobs are being converted to full-time hours. Of course, part-time positions could also be lost due to insufficient demand in certain sectors.

Total hours worked in the economy provides an additional indicator of real employment. While total hours dipped from June, estimates remained still higher than May levels. Nonetheless, the labour market showed signs of weakening in July.

While the labour force edged lower, the ranks of the unemployed rose, pushing the unemployment rate up to 7 per cent from 6.6 per cent in July. B.C.’s unemployment rate has been volatile this year but has fluctuated near the current level. The unemployment rate in Metro Vancouver rose from 6.5 per cent to 6.9 per cent in July. The tempering of employment in July supports our view of a less vibrant labour market in the latter half of 2012.

Confidence-challenged businesses are expected to respond with caution to persistent global economic uncertainty by dampening the pace of hiring. After running ahead of 2011 by about 1.9 per cent over the first six months of the year, annual growth is forecast to temper to 1.6 per cent by year-end.

Industry trends

July’s employment decline was led by a continued downtrend in construction employment, which contracted 3.3 per cent from June. Since peaking in Q3 2011 following an early year surge, estimated construction employment has declined 12 per cent. Some of this slide could reflect a part-time to full-time shift, but declines in non-residential construction activity likely contributed to the drop.

Declines were also recorded in the manufacturing sector, which gave back some recent month gains, and education.

Meanwhile, significant employment growth was recorded in the professional, scientific and technical service sector, which recorded a 4.1 per cent increase in employment. However, employment in this sector was down more than 8 per cent from a year prior.

Lower Mainland-Southwest
The latest seasonally-adjusted, short-term trends in labour market indicators were positive. Employment rose by 9,300 persons (0.6 per cent) over the latest three month period but at decelerated pace. Employment gains were outpaced by labour force expansion, partly a reflection of a higher participation rate, which pulled the unemployment rate up 0.4 percentage points to 6.8 per cent.

Vancouver Island-Coast
The latest seasonally-adjusted, short-term trends in labour market indicators were negative. Employment contracted by 11,700 persons (3.1 per cent) over the latest three month period. While the regional participation rate remained below 60 per cent, the unemployment rate rose 0.6 percentage points to 6.3 per cent

Thompson-Okanagan
The latest seasonally-adjusted, short-term trends in labour market indicators were positive. Another sharp gain in July pushed estimated employment up by 11,970 persons (4.7 per cent) over the latest three month period. This led to a 1.9 percentage point decline in the unemployment rate to 6.4 per cent despite a higher participation rate.

Kootenay
The latest seasonally-adjusted, short-term trends in labour market indicators were flat. Employment was unchanged over the latest three month period. The region’s unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage points to 6.9 per cent.

Cariboo
The latest seasonally-adjusted, short-term trends in labour market indicators were positive. Employment grew by 1,000 persons (1.2 per cent) over the last three month period. While the unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage points to 7.7 per cent.

North Coast-Nechako
The latest seasonally adjusted, short-term trends in labour market indicators were negative. Employment fell by 4,100 persons (9.7 per cent) over the latest three month period. Despite a retrenchment in the labour force participation rate (and resulting drop in the size of the labour force), the unemployment rate rose 0.8 percentage points to 11.5 per cent.

Northeast
The latest seasonally adjusted, short-term trends in labour market indicators were neutral. Regional employment rose by 270 persons (0.7 per cent) over the latest three month period. The estimated unemployment rate remained low at a provincial low of 4.3 per cent.
| Central 1 Credit Union

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