B.C. adds 5,600 jobs in December, economists chew over BoC rate hike

January 28, 2018

By Tyler Orton, Business In Vancouver |

B.C. has closed out 2017 with Canada’s lowest unemployment rate after adding 5,600 jobs in December, according to Statistics Canada.

Data released Friday (January 5) shows the province made most of its gains in part-time positions, which jumped by 11,800 jobs as the holiday shopping season unfolded.

Full-time employment fell by 6,200 jobs but B.C. ended the year with a 4.6% unemployment rate — the lowest among all provinces and a year-over-year decline of 1.2 percentage points — after adding a total of 83,000 jobs throughout 2017.

The data revealed most of the job gains in 2017 came from industries related to the real estate market, such as construction, insurance, finance, rental and leasing.

Overall, the nation added 79,000 in December.

“Another ridiculously strong employment report that is marked by over 150,000 new jobs in two months gives the [Bank of Canada] full reason to look through a transitory soft patch in the economy,” Derek Holt, vice-president of Scotiabank Economics, wrote in a note to investors.

He said the odds of the central bank hiking its benchmark rate for the third time in less than one year “are not 100% given ongoing uncertainties” such as NAFTA and new stress tests for some mortgages.

“But in our judgment they are high enough to make the change to our forecast which previously anticipated a hike in April,” Holt said.

TD senior economist Brian DePratto echoed Holt’s sentiments.

“For Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz, today’s data should act as a further sign that despite hiccups in some areas of the economy, the underlying trend remains healthy,” he wrote in an investors note.

“While risks to the outlook remain and may temper the overall pace of rate hikes, another policy interest rate hike in the near term now seems almost certain.”

torton@biv.com

@reporton

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