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B.C. adds 1,400 jobs in May amid wild swings in some sectors

Unemployment rate remains unchanged at five per cent.
B.C.'s construction industry experienced notable losses in May, according to Statistics Canada.

Employment on the West Coast remained broadly static last month even amid wild swings in some sectors.

B.C. added 1,400 jobs to the economy in May as the unemployment rate remained unchanged month-to-month at five per cent, according to Statistics Canada data released Friday.

While province-wide job growth was minimal, certain sectors experienced notable gains and losses.

The health-care field added 8,000 jobs in May, while the embattled tech sector managed to gain 10,200 jobs.

Construction (-8,900 jobs), manufacturing (-5,800 jobs), and business, building and support services (-7,200 jobs) were all hit by big losses.

Meanwhile, Canada as a whole lost 17,000 jobs as the unemployment rate went up two ticks to 5.2 per cent.

“The headline was clearly weak, but the details weren't nearly as soft,” Benjamin Reitzes, BMO's managing director of Canadian rates and macro strategist, said in a note in reference to the national numbers.

He pointed out job losses were driven mainly by a plunge in youth employment (-77,000 jobs).

This is the first jobs report since the Bank of Canada hiked its key rate a quarter point on Wednesday in a bid to cool the economy to tamp down on inflation concerns.

It won’t be known until next month what effect this week’s rate decision had on job growth.

But Reitzes said that the central bank will likely “take this mixed report in stride” and wait for more data before deciding whether to hike its key rate again in July.

TD senior economist James Orlando took a less optimistic view of the latest jobs numbers.

“While most of the job losses were concentrated in the younger age cohort … the drop in full-time jobs [-32,700 jobs] and reduction in hours worked [down 0.4 per cent month-on-month] point to weakness under the hood. The question is now: Is this a one off or the start of a trend?” he said in a note.

“While one weak labour market report doesn't make a trend, the BoC will be closely watching to see if other cracks start to form.”