Unemployment rate drops in northwestern B.C.

Large improvement since Spring 2020

More people were working in May in northwestern B.C. than in April, indicates information released by Statistics Canada.

The increase, from 44,500 people in April to 44,700 in May for a gain of 200, continued the trend of a gradual employment recovery since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Spring 2000.

But while there were more people working, the size of the available labour force defined as those who are working and those looking for work actually shrank —from 48,400 in April to 47,700 in May.

And that was reflected in the number of people who took themselves out of the labour force —from 20,500 in April to 21,200 in May.

“There are various reasons why people who want to work do not search for a job in a given month, including illness or other personal circumstances,” Statistics Canada explained in a release regarding May’s employment figures.

“Some people — referred to as discouraged searchers — want a job but, do not look for one because of business conditions or because they believe no work is available. The number of discouraged searchers typically increases during economic downturns, and then recedes as job searchers regain confidence in the labour market.”

So with a smaller labour force in the northwest from April to May and slightly more people working, the unemployment rate dropped from 8.1 per cent in April to 6.5 per cent in May.

That’s because the unemployment rate is taken from the number of people who are in the labour force or who considered themselves in the labour force whether they are working or not.

May’s northwest figures are in a stark contrast to May 2020 when there were 39,100 people working, 5,600 people fewer than there are today.

Provincially, Statistics Canada’s figures showed B.C. gained 21,300 full time jobs while losing 23,200 part time ones and that the provincial unemployment rate was 7 per cent, below the national rate of 8.2 per cent.

“With vaccination rates climbing, COVID-19 cases dropping and the first step of our restart plan underway, people in B.C. are finally beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. But we’re not there yet,” said B.C. jobs minister Ravi Kahlon.

Statistics Canada takes its employment figures not from Employment Insurance data but from its own interview methodology.

The northwestern B.C. region is defined as the area from Haida Gwaii in the west to almost Vanderhoof in the east.