Statistics Canada said the province’s unemployment rate rose, however, by 1.9 percentage points to 13.4 per cent, as more people looked for work.
After two months of severe employment losses, B.C. added 43,000 jobs in May, as COVID-19 restrictions began to lift and some businesses reopened, Statistics Canada said Friday.
However, the province’s unemployment rate rose 1.9 percentage points to 13.4 per cent, as 60,000 more people were looking for work, said Vincent Ferrao, an analyst with Statistics Canada.
“Despite the increases, B.C. hasn’t recovered from the employment losses,” said Ferrao. “In March and April there were nearly 387,000 fewer people working and only 43,000 jobs were recovered in May so there is still a long way to go.”
Statistics Canada said almost all of the employment increases in B.C. were in the services-producing sector, led by accommodation and food services, educational services, and wholesale and retail trade.
Beginning in mid-March, thousands of businesses were ordered closed over fears of the virus and physical distancing measures were put in place. As the curve flattened, B.C. announced a first phase of reopening on May 6, with a plan to lift restrictions on non-essential medical services and parts of the retail trade industry starting May 19.
Last month, B.C. recorded 396,500 job losses since February, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the province resulting in an economic shutdown.
On Friday, Finance Minister Carole James said the May labour force numbers show some encouraging signs, as the volatile labour market continues.
“I’m pleased B.C. created 43,300 jobs in the month of May as people shift back into the labour market, but we have a long road ahead of us in our recovery,” said James, noting that B.C.’s unemployment rate sits at 13.4 per cent.
The last time B.C.’s unemployment rate was over 13 per cent was in January 1987 when it hit 13.9 per cent. The highest on record in the province is 15.7 per cent in May 1984, according to Ferrao.
James said to date, more than 510,000 people in B.C. have received the $1,000 BC Emergency Benefit for Workers.
“As more and more workplaces begin to reopen, there’s reason for increased confidence amongst consumers, which is critical to our recovery,” said James, during a news conference in Victoria on Friday.
“Despite COVID-19 impacts, B.C. is an economic leader in Canada. This, together with people’s exceptional co-operation in managing the health-care crisis, puts us on a solid foundation for economic recovery.”
Overall, Statistics Canada said Canada’s labour market unexpectedly strengthened after two-straight months of record losses, adding 289,600 jobs. However, the unemployment rate rose to 13.7 per cent. Economists were anticipating a loss of 500,000 jobs, according to a Bloomberg report, with the unemployment rate rising to 15 per cent.
The only province that saw job declines was Ontario, where the lifting of restrictions began later in the month.
The better-than-expected report suggests the governments programs to cushion the blow to the labor market are working. By mid-May, 179,000 businesses had applied for the governments 75 per cent wage subsidy program.
The pace of applications to Canada’s emergency income benefit program has also decelerated in recent weeks, suggesting the worst of the layoffs and job losses is over.
Original link: https://vancouversun.com/news/covid-19-b-c-adds-43000-jobs-in-may-though-unemployment-remains-high