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

Nelson Innovation Centre opens in Railtown

Centre will provide networking, training and workspace for all things tech

MP Morrison pushes for accountability following federal fiscal update

Kootenay-Columbia parliamentarian says it is time to restart the economy

UPDATED: Interior Health to add 495 long-term seniors care beds

Nelson, Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton to receive new facilities

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

RDCK to implement new emergency alert notification system

System also includes sends alerts for water advisories

Sources say Canada, U.S. likely to extend mutual travel ban into late August

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted at the possibility after a phone call with U.S. President

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Commercial huckleberry harvesting restricted in Kootenays

The province of B.C. has banned commercial-scale picking from July 15 to October 15

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Most Read