B.C.’s labour market out-performed most of its provincial counterparts in February as total employment rose 0.4 per cent (9,100 persons) from January to reach a seasonally adjusted estimate of 2.3 million persons.
This compared to employment contractions in most other provinces, including declines of 0.3 per cent in Alberta and 0.1 per cent in Ontario. B.C.’s employment growth was met by an expansion of the labour force, which kept the provincial unemployment rate steady at 6.9 per cent.
February’s employment boost provided some support to a lacklustre post-recession job market recovery. Following a stronger uptick in September there has been little upward momentum in job growth. On a year-over-year basis, February employment was up only 1.8 per cent as compared to a weak early-2011.
A bright spot for February was job composition. Full-time job growth of 1.2 per cent from January led monthly gains, which more than offset a 2.5-per-cent contraction in part-time employment. While full-time employment remains below pre-recession highs, it was up 3.4 per cent from the same month in 2011.
A downtrend in part-time employment suggests businesses are adding hours for existing part-time employees or consolidating part-time workers, in addition to expanding their workforce. Modest improvements in the labour market have been reflected in a rising trend in total employment hours worked in the economy.Exports of B.C. goods to international markets fell in January, reflecting declines in resource-related products. Total seasonally adjusted exports slumped 12 per cent to $2.49 billion from December, down 1.2 per cent from January 2011.