Data points: BC employment sees mild expansion led by part-time work

After modest increases seen in previous months, employment in BC expanded by 23,400 people (0.8 percent) in April for a year-over-year increase of 3.3 percent. This contributed to a sharp half-point drop in the unemployment rate to five percent, even as the labor force continued to expand.

However, with part-time employment driving growth (up 30,200 people or 5.4 percent) and a decline in full-time employment of 6,700 people, conditions were softer than the headlines would suggest. The Vancouver Metropolitan Census Area (CMA) saw a 0.7 percent increase in its employment rate, while the area’s unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent.

By sector, BC service manufacturing industries led the first employment increase in April with a 1.2 percent increase, offsetting a 0.8 percent decline in goods manufacturing industries. The province’s manufacturing sector saw the largest proportional monthly decline at 3.2 percent (down 5,600 people), leading the overall decline. The information, culture and recreation sector (up 23,400 people or 16.6 percent) reported a recovery in employment in April after the first large decline in March. Employment growth was also seen in sectors such as accommodation and food services (up 3.3 percent) and transportation and warehousing (up 2.7 percent).

BC building permits fell in March. The monthly decline came after two previous monthly increases. Total building permit values ​​fell 24.3 percent to $1.7 billion, more than defying February’s 5.3 percent gain. This was due to a decrease in the issuance of permits in both the residential and non-residential sectors, with construction intentions falling by 12.2 percent and 45.8 percent, respectively. Year over year, total permit values ​​fell by 35.1 percent.

That said, first-quarter permits were still 20 percent higher than the weak fourth quarter, and they were driven by non-resident commercial and industrial permits.

Home building permits in March fell to $1.2 billion over the month as multifamily housing permits eased. Multifamily building permits fell for the second month in a row, falling 16.4 percent. However, occupancy permits for a home posted a seven percent increase in March, adding to a previous increase of 3.7 percent in February.

Non-resident permit values ​​fell to $424.2 million as all but one subcategory declined over the month. After a big gain in February, industrial permit values ​​fell by 91.6 percent, while commercial permits fell by 42.1 percent. Meanwhile, government licensing increased by four times the value recorded in the previous month.

Most BC census metropolitan areas posted mixed results in March. Vancouver saw a 22.7 percent drop in monthly permit values, which were down 44.9 percent year over year. In Abbotsford-Mission, permits fell by almost 62.7 percent after significant gains seen in February. Kelowna also saw permit values ​​decline by 29.1 per cent during the month. In contrast, permit values ​​increased in Victoria (15.2 percent), Nanaimo (13.8 percent), Chilliwack (7.3 percent) and Kamloops (2.4 percent).

Bryan Yu is Chief Economist at Central 1.

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