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

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

Just Posted

Plans to restore the ecology of Sidney Island include the eradication of fallow deer first introduced in the early 1900s. (Parks Canada/Submitted)
Parks Canada proposal calls for eradication of fallow deer on Sidney Island

Proposed eradication part of a larger plan to restore local ecology but obstacles remain ahead

Ryan Cootes, Erin Bremner-Mitchell, Bill Collins and Mike Williamson of Cascadia Seaweed Corporation are here seen holding up seaweed grown in Barkley Sound in July 2020. The Sidney-based company has organized the inaugural Seaweed Days Festival running May 17 to May 23. (Cascadia Seaweed Corporation/Submitted)
Let’s hear it for seaweed: slimy, unsexy and the world’s greatest untapped food source

Experts talks emerging industry’s challenges and potential at Sidney inaugural Seawood Days Festival

A forest of dance-protesters outside the BC Legislature on April 11. These participants were doing the Dance for the Ancient Forest in support of the Fairy Creek blockade and against old-growth logging. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Arrests begin at Fairy Creek blockade on Vancouver Island

Five protesters arrested as RCMP begin to enforce injunction

Saanich police are asking for the public’s help locating missing woman Christina Olsen, 41, who was last seen on May 15 in the 4500-block of Blenkinsop Road. (Photo via the Saanich Police Department)
MISSING: Police seek woman last seen at Saanich mental health facility

Christina Olsen, 41, left Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility on May 15

A dramatic four-vehicle crash at the intersection of Government and Herald streets brings standstill in downtown Victoria on May 18. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
UPDATE: Downtown Victoria intersection reopens after 4 car crash injures passengers, slowed traffic

Traffic impacted after crash closes Government and Herald streets

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

A thunderstorm pictured in Fraser Valley in 2021. (Black Press Media/Jaimie Grafstrom)
Wildfire concerns sparked after 320+ lightning strikes blasted B.C. yesterday

Approximately one-quarter of the province is currently listed as being at moderate risk of fire

A restaurant server on White Rock’s Marine Drive serves customers on a roadside patio. Indoor dining and recreational travel bans have been in effect since late March in B.C. (Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate falls to 411 cases Tuesday

360 people in hospital, up slightly, two more deaths

The Banff National Park entrance is shown in Banff, Alta., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Minister asks Canadians to camp carefully in national parks as season starts

Kitchen shelters in Banff National Park closed, trails on Vancouver Island will only be one-way

Names of those aboard the ship are seen at Komagata Maru monument in downtown Vancouver, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The City of Vancouver has issued an apology for its racist role in denying entry to 376 passengers aboard a ship that was forced to return to India over a century ago. Mayor Kennedy Stewart says discrimination by the city had “cruel effects” on the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims aboard the Komagata Maru, which arrived in Burrard Inlet on May 23, 1914. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says sorry for city’s role in turning away South Asians in 1914

Kennedy Stewart has declared May 23 as the annual Komagata Maru Day of Remembrance

A crew of WestCoast WILD Adventures employees tackled an onslaught of litter left at the ‘Locks of Love’ fence at Wally Creek on May 2. (Anne-Marie Gosselin photo)
Litter woes consume popular ‘Locks of Love’ fence on B.C.’s Pacific Rim

Popular view spot near Tofino plagued by people hanging masks and other unwanted garbage

A game camera near the Klahoose reservation on Cortes Island caught this glimpse of a truck leaving the woodlot at around 2:30 on Sunday morning. Photo supplied by Klahoose First Nation
Indigenous cutblock vandalised on Cortes Island, anti-logging element suspected

Ribbons pulled down, gravel poured into gas tank at Klahoose First Nation site

Announced Tuesday, May 18 by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory. (AP/Steven Senne)
Masks now required at all times inside B.C. gyms, including during workouts

Those who disobey could be subject to a $230 fine

Reinhard “Bud” Loewen of Abbotsford has now been charged with 21 counts of sexual assault related to his massage business. (Facebook photo)
Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 21 counts of sexual assault

Bud Loewen of Bud’s Massage Therapy initally faced three charges

Most Read