Friday, February 15, 2013

BC Labour Market Forecast Feb. 2013


VANCOUVER, BC, Feb. 14, 2013/ Troy Media/ – Labour market weakness observed near the tail end of 2012 extended into January as B.C.’s economy shed jobs for a third time in four months.

Estimated total employment in the province fell to a seasonally-adjusted 2.298 million persons, marking a decline of 0.7 per cent or 15,900 persons from December. The decline was led by a two per cent tumble in the number of part-time employed individuals, while full-time employment also dipped by 0.3 per cent.

At the industry level, goods-sector employment slumped by 2.1 per cent on construction and resource sector pull-backs, but followed two months of gains and remained within the 12-month range. In contrast, the service-industry observed a more modest drop of 0.3 per cent, but that sector has consistently shed jobs since mid-2012.

January’s employment decline is clearly a discouraging indicator of the economy, and not quite the start to 2013 we were looking for. However, top-line employment figures mask at least two positive trends.

While total employment contracted, total hours worked in the economy have generally trended higher which points to some consolidation of jobs and greater labour utilization. Real hours worked in the economy have increased despite the contraction in employment levels.

In addition, the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 per cent in January, down 0.1 percentage points from December and was well off the rate of 7 per cent recorded in same-month 2012.

While labour market conditions are temperate at best, the steady unemployment rate points to greater stability than suggested by employment estimates alone. When the labour force declines, usually employment and unemployment do as well and when the labour force increases employment usually follows. This co-movement between employment and the labour force occurs since it is a sample and not a census of households, and could explain some of the significant movements in the data.

Arguably, weak employment growth may have led some discouraged unemployed individuals to temporarily pause their search for work but that does not explain the near-synchronous relationship.

Lower Mainland-Southwest
The latest seasonally-adjusted, short-term trends in labour market indicators were negative. Employment fell by 9,100 persons (0.6 per cent) over the latest three month period. The regional unemployment rate fell 0.4 percentage points to 6.7 per cent over the same period as labour force participation pulled back.

Vancouver Island-Coast
The latest seasonally-adjusted, short-term trends in labour market indicators remained positive. Employment surged by 8,740 persons (2.4 per cent) over the latest three month period. While the underlying employment trend is positive, a portion of recent gains likely reflect sampling variability rather. Growth was generally matched by expansion in the labour force, which maintained a steady unemployment rate of 5.9 per cent, up 0.1 percentage points from three months prior.

Thompson-Okanagan

The latest seasonally-adjusted, short-term trends in labour market indicators were negative. Employment contracted sharply by 14.800 persons (-5.6 per cent) over the latest three month period. While some of the loss may reflect sampling variability, the magnitude of decline suggests real employment losses in the region. Estimated employment declines outpaced the pace of labour force contraction pushing up the regional unemployment rate by 1.1 percentage points to 6.4 per cent.

Kootenay
The latest seasonally-adjusted, short-term trends in labour market indicators were mixed. Employment rose by 1,900 persons (2.5 per cent) over the latest three month period but gains were generally matched by labour force expansion which contributed to a 0.3 percentage point increase in the regional unemployment rate. The unemployment rate reached 8.1 per cent in January.

Cariboo
The latest seasonally-adjusted, short-term trends in labour market indicators were mixed. Employment fell by 3,000 persons (3.5 per cent) over the latest three month period. However, a contraction in the participation rate led to a sharper decline in labour force and contributed to a significant drop in the regional unemployment rate. Unemployment fell to five per cent of the labour force, down two percentage points from three months prior.

North Coast-Nechako
The latest seasonally-adjusted, short-term trends in labour market indicators were positive. Employment rose by 2,500 persons (6.6 per cent) over the latest three month period which outpaced the pace of labour force expansion of three per cent. As a result, the regional unemployment rate fell 3.2 percentage points from three-months earlier to 7.8 per cent.

Northeast
The latest seasonally-adjusted, short-term trends in labour market indicators were mixed. Regional employment contracted by 810 persons (2.0 per cent) over the latest three month period. Employment gains slightly outpaced labour force expansion which likely yielded a upward pressure on the unemployment rate. Unemployment rate estimates were suppressed for the Northeast region of the province, which likely reflected confidentiality concerns due to low unemployment levels and small sample-size. In October, the unemployment rate was 3.8 per cent.
| Central 1 Credit Union

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