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B.C. adds 12K jobs in August, real estate takes a hit

B.C. unemployment rate outperforming the rest of Canada, according to Statistics Canada.
Condos under construction in Burnaby. The province's real estate sector took a hit in terms of jobs last month, according to Statistics Canada.

The B.C. labour market looks to be playing an outsized role in boosting national numbers with the West Coast adding 12,000 jobs in August, according to Statistics Canada data released Friday.

Canada as a whole added 40,000 jobs, with Alberta (+18,000 jobs) serving as the biggest contributor amid 9,000 job losses in Ontario.

The stats agency also revealed B.C.’s unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 5.2% compared with a month prior. The national rate remained static at 5.5%.

Employment within the finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing category took a hit in B.C., shedding 7,700 jobs amid high interest rates.

Leading into the school year, the province added 10,200 jobs to the education services category.

"Canada's job market has been following a sawtooth pattern this year, with a soft report generally followed by a snapback," BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said in a note.

“This was the month for a minor snapback. While August was for the most part a respectable month, it's worth pounding home the point that Canada now needs a steady flow of jobs just to match raging population growth.”

He said 50,000 jobs are needed monthly to hold the unemployment rate where it is.

Porter added that this month’s jobs data won’t be enough to influence the Bank of Canada’s thinking following the pause on rate hikes earlier this week.

“It's not strong enough to prompt an immediate rethink on the pause, but it's also certainly not soft enough to rule out further hikes,” he said.

TD senior economist James Orlando echoed those sentiments.

“Consumer spending is slowing under the weight of 475 [basis points] in rate hikes over the last 18 months, and the real estate market is rolling over again after the BoC's June/July rate hikes,” he said in a note. 

“Given that markets are pricing a 50-50 chance of another BoC hike this year, it is clear that market participants are still looking for more evidence of an economic slowdown.”

Meanwhile, CIBC executive director of economics Andrew Grantham said the Bank of Canada is done with rate hikes for now.

“The unemployment rate [is] likely to move higher in the coming months and approach levels which should slow wage growth and overall inflationary pressures in the future,” he said in a note.

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