B.C. Finance Minister Carole James presents her budget, Victoria, Feb. 18, 2020. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

May employment statistics represent “a glimmer of hope” after B.C.’s economy lost 353,000 jobs in the coronavirus pandemic restrictions of March and April, Finance Minister Carole James says.

The latest Statistics Canada labour force survey reports an additional 43,300 jobs for May. B.C.’s official unemployment rate actually rose almost two per cent to 13.4 per cent, but that’s a result of more people returning to look for work as the job market started to show signs of reopening.

“These numbers came before the restart had actually begun,” James said June 5. “I think we see some glimmers of hope in this trend when you see the number of jobs that actually were created. It doesn’t touch the huge loss of jobs over this time period, but I think it does show that you’re starting to see some confidence.”

Jock Finlayson, chief policy officer of the Business Council of B.C., said he was pleasantly surprised to see a slight improvement rather than further decline of B.C.’s job market.

“I think April was the bottom of the labour market apocalypse,” Finlayson said in an interview. “And we’re now back on the road to what I think will be a fairly lengthy and bumpy recovery.”

RELATED: Closed B.C. businesses allowed to sell liquor stock

RELATED: No regional easing of B.C. restrictions, Horgan says

James said the unemployment rate among young people was 20.89 per cent for the May report, reflecting the categories of accommodation, food services, wholesale and retail that account for 46 per cent of total jobs lost in B.C.

Finlayson said the job market for young people is likely to remain difficult, in an unprecedented recession that has hit the service economy much harder than the goods-producing sector.

“That’s one of the things we’re worried about, how long is it going to take young adults to get re-employed, recognizing that there will be more people coming out of school into the labour force as well,” Finlayson said. “They’re going to be out there bumping up against their slightly older brothers and sisters who have been rendered unemployed as a consequence of the pandemic and the closure of all these industries.”

Another factor is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which arrived much faster than federal business wage subsidies. Finlayson said it’s an issue in getting people back into the job market, and the program needs to be phased out by late summer and fall.

“Some people said extend it to the end of the year,” Finlayson said. “I think that would potentially have some quite negative unintended consequences.

“There’s a lot of research that shows the most important indicator of long-term economic and social well-being is employment. They’re better to be employed building their skills and their experience, and contributing to the economy.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Thief steals bucket truck in Abbotsford while worker is 20 feet in air

Employee is able to jump to safety after suspect drives into pole

Fraser Valley Real Estate Board says sales double in June, buyers returning to market

Month’s property sales rebound 113% over May’s sales, 32% over June last year

Fraser River may surge one more time next week

It’s unusual for the Fraser River to peak twice in one season, let alone three times

Supreme Court orders new French-language school for Abbotsford, improved one for Chilliwack

A French-only elementary school must be built in Abbotsford, court ordered in landmark ruling

Fraser Basin Council invites local youth to environmental-policy program

Applications for ‘Co-Creating a Sustainable BC’ program have June 19 deadline

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Investigation clears RCMP in incident where man fell from Langley overpass

‘Officers acted commendably and placed themselves at risk’ police watchdog report finds

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Rural Chilliwack residents asked to stay indoors, lock doors amid heavy police presence

Heavy police presence in rural Chilliwack neighbourhood as RCMP contend with ‘serious situation’

Councillor Doug Elford Surrey’s acting mayor during McCallum’s “health concern” absence

Mayor issued a statement Tuesday night saying he’ll be back on the job by Monday

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Most Read