Canadian Housing Starts and Labour Force Survey - June 8, 2012

The Canadian economy added just 7,700 jobs in May following two months of stellar job growth in March and April that saw the edition of 140,000 new jobs. The Canadian unemployment rate held steady at 7.3 per cent. Employment in British Columbia was flat on the heels of 19,700 new jobs in April. Last month's sharp drop in the BC unemployment rate to 6.2 per cent proved to be a temporary blip. The unemployment rate bounced up 1.2 per cent to 7.4 per cent in May. BC employment is up 1.9  per cent compared to May 2011.

Looking at the new home construction market, Canadian housing starts were down from May's blockbuster pace of nearly 245,000 units, but still strong at a 211,400 seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR).   New home construction in BC urban centres jumped 21 per cent month over month, registering 26,600  starts (SAAR) in May.  On a year-over-year basis, BC housing starts were 9 per cent lower than May 2011.

New home construction in major metropolitan areas was generally weaker last month. Vancouver's previously robust multi-family starts trended lower in May, falling 18 per cent year-over-year while new construction of single-family homes was down one per cent. Total Vancouver starts were down 15 per cent from May 2011.  Abbotsford new home construction was up 7 per cent year-over-year in May due to a 19 per cent rise in single-family starts. Housing starts in Victoria were down by nearly half compared to May 2011, the result of a slower pace of multi-family starts last month. Finally, new home construction in Kelowna was roughly flat compared with May 2011, albeit down 4 per cent. 


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