The number of British Columbians looking for work spiked in July, as overall Canada’s labour market continued to show signs of weakness.
Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate in B.C. rose 0.4 percentage points to 6.7 per cent, as the province shed 12,000 jobs, mostly part-time positions.
The federal agency says employment in the province was virtually unchanged compared with the same month a year ago.
Jeannine Usalcas, an analyst with Statistics Canada, said the hardest hit sectors were resale and wholesale trade. The forestry, fishing and oil and gas sectors also saw some declines.
“There’s no trend. I think (B.C.’s economy) is just still flat,” she said. “Year over year the growth is point one per cent so there is nothing happening. It’s not declining and it’s not up.”
Last month the job losses were concentrated among youth in B.C. and women 25 and over, she added.
Nationally, the economy shed a surprisingly high 39,400 net jobs, with public sector workers and youth taking on the biggest share of the losses.
Six provinces, including B.C., sustained a net drop in employment, with the biggest in Quebec where 30,400 jobs were lost. Alberta had the largest gain with an increase of 16,600 jobs.
It was the second consecutive month that Canada’s economy lost jobs and lifted the official unemployment rate to 7.2 per cent, one-tenth of a point higher than in June.
The setback, which followed by a much smaller retreat in May, also all but wipes any hopes that April’s unusual surge of 95,000 added jobs might have been signalling an upward trend for the Canadian economy.
Economists had expected a modest pickup of 10,000 jobs in July, but the Conference Board’s help-wanted index released last week proved more prescient in pointing to a setback.
Statistics Canada said with the latest result, employment growth has averaged a meagre 11,000 a month during the first half of 2013, far less than the 27,000 average gain realized during the second half of 2012.
Analysts say the economy needs to create between 15,000 and 20,000 new jobs each month just to keep up with population growth.
The tally for the past year is more impressive with 226,000 new jobs created, but the government agency noted that part-time work rose at twice the speed of full-time.