Greater Victoria saw its unemployment rate rise to 7.2 per cent, up 4.6 per cent from March 2020. (Black Press Media File).

Unemployment rate in Greater Victoria has doubled, compared to February

The amount of people who aren’t working has reached 7.2 per cent

The unemployment rate in Victoria’s Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) rose to 7.2 per cent in April 2020, up 4.6 per cent from March as the Canadian labour market experienced the “full shock” of the economic shutdown caused by COVID-19.

By way of background, Victoria’s CMA recorded an unemployment rate of 3.4 per cent in February 2020. This said, the regional picture appears brighter than the provincial or national picture. British Columbia’s unemployment rose 11.5 per cent in April, an increase of 4.3 per cent. Canada’s unemployment rose to 13 per cent, up 5.2 per cent, with Canada’s largest CMAs recording significant unemployment along the rule, the larger the city, the larger the percentage share loss.

RELATED: Unemployment in Greater Victoria rose to 4.6 per cent in March

Looking at raw numbers, employment fell by nearly two million in April, bringing the total employment decline since the beginning of the COVID-19 economic shutdown to over three million, following a drop of over one million in March.

As Statistics Canada says in an accompanying analysis, the magnitude of the decline in employment since February (-15.7%) “far exceeds” declines during previous economic downturns.

In fact, these numbers do not capture the full extent of the downturn. According to Stats Canada, more than one-third (36.7 per cent) of the potential labour force did not work or worked less than half of their usual hours. By way of background, this rate combines those who were unemployed; those who were not in the labour force, who wanted a job, but did not look for one; and those who were employed but worked less than half of their usual hours.

“In comparison, this rate was 11.3 per cent in February,” it reads.

These numbers have not surprisingly heightened economic anxieties.

Nearly one-third (32.1 per cent) of unemployed people aged 15 to 69 lived in a household reported financial difficulties. Among the employed, 17.5 per cent reported financial difficulties.

Many workers also feared being left behind, even as restrictions associated with the COVID-19 economic shutdown are relaxed. About four in 10 Canadians (39.4 per cent) who were employed but worked less than half of their usual hours were concerned that they might lose their job or main source of self-employment income within four weeks, Stats Canada says.

The sudden rise in unemployment has created a statistical anomaly. Due to most job losses happening in accommodation and food services, two of the lowest-paying industries, average wages have actually risen almost 11 per cent in April.

Why? Relatively speaking, the number of individuals working high paying jobs in industries such public administration and professional, scientific and technical services, two of the highest-paying industries, has gone up.


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