Construction of an office and residential building in Victoria in 2019. B.C. kept construction going during the COVID-19 pandemic and has avoided retail and restaurant restrictions seen elsewhere in Canada. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Construction of an office and residential building in Victoria in 2019. B.C. kept construction going during the COVID-19 pandemic and has avoided retail and restaurant restrictions seen elsewhere in Canada. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. unemployment rate climbs as COVID-19 drags on

Recovery stalled here, going backwards in Ontario, Quebec

B.C.’s net gain of 2,800 jobs in January is better than most places in Canada, but that’s a statistical blip as the overall unemployment rate rose from 7.2 to eight per cent, the Business Council of B.C.’s chief economist says.

“I think it’s pretty clear that the recovery process has stalled out here,” Ken Peacock told Black Press Media Feb. 5. “After the initial surge when things opened up to some degree, we saw the big bump, but I never expected it to continue, and I think we’re now at that time.”

Statistics Canada’s monthly labour force report contrasted B.C.’s positive results with big job losses in Ontario and Quebec as their COVID-19 spread prompted a shutdown of non-essential retail and other businesses. B.C. is hanging on, keeping restaurants and pubs as well as hair salons and other services open with public health restrictions.

RELATED: Canada’s unemployment rate highest since August

RELATED: B.C. extends COVID-19 restrictions through February

“The fact that we had a more nuanced and targeted approach that actually didn’t shutter non-essential retail or even restaurants, it definitely contributed to us having, not a strong jobs report, but much better than other parts of the country,” Peacock said.

Manufacturing and agriculture jobs are actually up in B.C. since January 2020, before the spread of the novel coronavirus from China forced measures that flattened travel and tourism-related business around the world.

“Our province’s economic recovery will not fully take hold until vaccinations have been fully administered, which is why it is critically important we do everything we can to prevent the spread of this virus,” B.C. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon said in a statement on the monthly job numbers.

Nationally, the labour force survey found that Canada lost more than 210,000 jobs in January, bringing the unemployment rate to 9.4 per cent, the highest since August 2020. The January losses put Canada 4.5 per cent short of the employment level in pre-pandemic Canada last February.

Peacock said the delays in vaccination and the target to have most of the population immunized by next September means little short-term improvement for hospitality and tourism work.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas. (Dennis Dugas photo)
Port Hardy mayor advocates for fish farm industry, talks impact on North Island

The Discovery Islands closures will certainly have an effect on Port Hardy, says Dugas.

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

Debra Lynn photo
Mysterious smoke cloud seen in Seavac Centre

Fire crews did a thorough sweep of the centre.

North Island Gazette file photo of Port McNeill council.
Heated conversation occurs at Port McNeill council over policy request

Port McNeill mayor Gaby Wickstrom wants to see a change in the… Continue reading

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
The Port Alice pulp mill site is being ‘recycled’

Bankruptcy company is overseeing de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring.

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. A joint federal and B.C. government housing program announced today aims to help people living in up to 25,000 vulnerable households pay their rent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal, B.C. governments announce $517-million rent aid program to help vulnerable

Benefits for those not eligible for B.C.’s Rental Assistance Program or Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Cole Moore with one of his sisters, Jasmin Moore. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island man looks to brain surgery for second chance

Fingers crossed that procedure can give Cole Moore a new lease on life after decade of seizures

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
B.C. father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

Most Read