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B.C. loses 4K jobs in October despite big gains in construction

Unemployment rate remains unchanged at 5.4%.
The construction industry led the way in terms of job gains for B.C. last month, according to Statistics Canada.

B.C.’s construction industry led the way in job gains for a second month in a row.

Despite the 10,200 jobs that the sector added in October, it wasn’t enough to stave off broader losses in other industries, according to data released Friday from Statistics Canada.

The province lost 4,000 jobs overall last month, with the most notable losses coming from educational services (-6,700 jobs) and information/culture/recreation (-6,700 jobs). The latter category is most often associated with the film industry.

While Hollywood writers recently resolved their labour action against studios, actors remain on strike and much of the local film industry remains on pause.

Despite the losses, the province’s unemployment rate stood unchanged at 5.4% as people left the workforce.

The national unemployment rate came in at 5.7 per cent, up 0.2 percentage points since September. Canada added a total 17,500 jobs to the economy last month.

“A monthly rise of 17,500 would be about normal [five years ago] and would certainly have been enough to keep the unemployment rate steady. But with Canada's population growing at breakneck speed – the labour force is now growing at well over 50,000 people per month – such a job gain is simply not enough,” BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said in a note.

“Make no mistake that the underlying picture for Canada's labour market is softening.”

He expects the Bank of Canada to remain on the sidelines when it makes its next interest decision in early December and that rate cuts remain a “distant prospect.”

“The [Bank of Canada] will still be cautious about easing off on the monetary policy brakes while inflation is still high. But signs of softening in labour markets should reinforce the decision to pause rate hikes for now and increase the odds that the next rate change will (eventually) be a cut,” RBC assistant chief economist Nathan Janzen said in a note.

“Our own base-case assumes the overnight rate will begin to move gradually lower in the second half of next year.”

TD senior economist James Orlando said the latest national jobs numbers will perpetuate the ongoing "is this a recession?" debate about the economy.

“While this certainly isn't a recession as there is no depth, duration or breadth, weakness is present. The number of unemployed workers keeps rising, while cyclically sensitive private sector hiring has been retreating for months,” he said in a note.

He expects the central bank to hold off on any rate hikes in December.

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