Canadian employment rose by 73,000 (+0.4%) in March hitting a fresh record for employment, according to Statistics Canada. The labour market is increasingly tight, with the Canadian unemployment rate declining to 5.3%, the lowest rate on record since comparable data became available in 1976. The total hours worked rose 1.3% in March while average hourly wages were up 3.4% on a year-over-year basis, up from 3.1% in February. Wage gains are below the inflation rate, however, which clocked in at 5.7% year-over-year in February.
Public health measures continued to ease prior to the survey reference week in March, driving labour market gains. Employment growth occurred in both the services-producing (+42,000; +0.3%) and the goods-producing (+31,000; +0.8%) sectors in March. The labour force participation rate was essentially unchanged at 65%.
BC's labour market continues to moderately outperform Canada's, with employment rising by 10,500 (0.4%) in March. Metro Vancouver's employment growth once again outpaced the province, with employment rising 9,300 (0.6%). Seasonally-adjusted employment in BC is not only above pre-pandemic levels, but hit a record high for a 6th consecutive month. The unemployment rate ticked upwards slightly in March, reaching 5.1%. Among the provinces, only Quebec and Saskatchewan have lower unemployment rates.
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