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

Just Posted

Irish folk supergroup Kíla set to perform on Saturday

Online concert will be available through Harrison Festival Society

Reported Kelowna Hells Angels member dies in Fraser Valley motorcycle crash

Michael “Speedy” Christiansen was found dead on Monday morning near Ruby Creek on Highway 7

Council to take a second look at developer’s plans for gravel pit in Silver Creek

Emil Anderson want their Hockin Road property to be a gravel pit, eventually a subdivision

Fundraiser golf tournament raises $74,000 for Fraser Valley hospitals

Chilliwack General Hospital will benefit from a tourney at held at the Sandpiper Golf Resort

Fatal motorcycle collision behind Highway 7 closure

Man’s body found Monday near Ruby Creek, believed to be involved in collision over weekend

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Dozens of Canadian venues to light up red in support of entertainment workers

Local facilities among dozens across Canada to participate in Light Up Live

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Most Read