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B.C. unemployment plunges to three-year low in May as tourism bounces back

The province added 5,100 jobs, while the unemployment rate plummeted to 4.5%.
cruiseshipdocked
A cruise ship docked at Canada Place in Vancouver.

Cruise ships are back and so are jobs in B.C.’s tourism sector.

After shedding 2,000 jobs in April, the West Coast economy bounced back last month with the addition of 5,100 jobs, according to Statistics Canada data released Friday.

Food services and accommodation added 6,800 jobs from April to May, while the information, culture and recreation category saw an uptick of 7,400 jobs during that same period.

The addition of all these jobs is putting that much more pressure on an already extremely tight labour market, with the province’s unemployment rate dropping 0.9 percentage points to a three-year low of 4.5 per cent.

Canada’s unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage points to a record-low 5.1 per cent last month as the national economy added 40,000 jobs.

“As we commence the ritual of filling patios and hit the road for overdue vacations, employers continue to search for workers to meet [heightened] demand. This has job vacancy rates at record levels, making it clear that the Canadian economy is operating beyond full employment,” TD senior economist James Orlando said in a note.

He added that the positive jobs numbers across the country will “only continue to fuel speculation” that the Bank of Canada will be hiking its overnight more aggressively in the coming months.

The central bank kicked off the month raising the key rate 50 basis points to reach 1.5 per cent. The Bank of Canada is widely expected to hike the key rate another 50 basis points in July.

Meanwhile, B.C.’s construction industry was the biggest winner last month, adding 13,100 jobs.

Transportation/warehousing shed 14,300 positions, while the province’s manufacturing sector lost 10,700 positions.

StatsCan data also revealed average hourly wages jumped 3.9 per cent between May 2021 and May 2022. That's the fastest rate of acceleration in more than a year.

"With wage growth now also accelerating, the Bank of Canada will feel increased pressure to continue raising interest rates," CIBC economist Andrew Grantham said in a note.

torton@biv.com

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