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

Heart of Our City: Ron Nyce

Teaching, dancing and encouraging culture create the heartbeat of this drummer

Breast cancer screening available in Prince Rupert – ten days only

Mobile imaging suite will be in Prince Rupert from July 6 to 16

RCSCC 7 – Captain Cook is searching for new C.O.

Officer position will be vacant with CIC sailing away to different shores.

Police investigate July 2 homicide in Houston

Man succumbed to injuries at Pearson Road residence

Solidarity movement displayed in city

Prince Rupert locals demonstrated against

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

96-year-old woman scales B.C. butte with help of family, friends

‘I did as I was told and I enjoyed every minute of it’

Parallel crises: How COVID-19 exacerbated B.C.’s drug overdose emergency

Part 1: Officials say isolation, toxic drug supply, CERB, contributing to crisis

Canadians with disabilities disproportionately hit by COVID-19 pandemic

More than four out of 10 British Columbians aged 70 and up have various disabilities

Camping offers a great pandemic escape, for less money than you might think

But for many first-timers, knowing what to bring can be a challenge

Turbulence in Canadian opinion on airlines COVID-19 response: poll

Thousands of people have beseeched Transport Minister Marc Garneau to compel airlines to issue refunds,

Police issue warning after baby comes across suspected drugs in Kamloops park

The 11-month-old girl’s mother posted photos on social media showing a small plastic bag containing a purple substance

Most Read