Solid employment recovery continues in B.C.

December 4, 2020
Ken Peacock

The November Labour Force Survey reflects the ongoing jobs recovery in B.C. The most recent monthly addition of another 24,000 jobs means overall employment in the province is now down “just” 37,000 compared to February 2020 (a relatively modest decline of 1.5%).

Below the headline number are also several positive details.

For example, all the job gains and then some were in the full-time category. A concomitant reduction in part-time jobs tempered the overall advance in employment. But it also suggests some part-time positions were recently expanded to full-time hours. There were also new full-time jobs reported, too.

Up to this point, full-time employment has lagged well behind part-time employment, so the recent data signal a welcome shift. Another notable point is that November’s job gains were skewed heavily towards Metro Vancouver, where employment suffered the biggest hit in the lockdown and to date has exhibited a slower recovery profile.

A significant milestone in B.C.’s recovery process was reached in November with employment among the core working age cohort (25-54) regaining its pre-pandemic level. The remining jobs shortfall is mostly among younger workers (15-24) and, to a lesser degree, older workers.

Below are several figures and related comments summarizing the current status of B.C.’s surprisingly strong employment recovery:

  • Total employment rose 24,000 jobs last month (a moderation from the 34,000 increase in October);
  • Employment is now down “just” 37,000 from February, which is a small decline of just 1.5%;
  • Full-time employment advanced 42,000 in November; this was partially offset by an 18,000 decline in part-time employment. Full-time employment is still down 57,000 from February;
  • The provincial unemployment rate dropped to 7.1% from 8% the previous month.

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  • Almost all of November’s job gains were in the core working age population (25-54); employment has now fully recovered to February levels for this group;
  • A small gain of 5,000 jobs was recorded for the 15-24 group; employment in this age cohort is still down 8% (37,000) from February;
  • The unemployment rate for those aged 15-24 is 14%;
  • Employment among workers aged 55+ suffered a small setback in November; employment in this group down just 2.5% from February.
  • Job gains were concentrated in Metro Vancouver – this is welcome, as the region was hardest hit in the spring and has been slower to recover;
  • Employment levels have fully recovered in Kelowna.

By industry, the largest monthly employment gains were seen in:

  • Resource sector still positive – forestry, mining, oil and gas up 4,500;
  • Construction -- up 5,700 (after losing ground in the previous month);
  • Wholesale and retail up 6,200;
  • Transportation and warehousing up 6,300;
  • Professional and scientific services continued to climb, adding 4,300 positions;
  • Accommodation and food services employment rose 7,300.

Grouping industries into three categories – hardest hit, moderately impacted, and limited impact – shows strong employment gains in the collection of industries that were affected to a limited extent.

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