British Columbia unemployment rate drops to 13%, but recovery slower for women and youth

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The unemployment rate in British Columbia fell slightly last month, reaching 13% as the economy continued to rebound after the pandemic shutdown.Finance Minister Carole James, speaking at a press conference on Friday morning, said recently released data in British Columbia, which captures employment information from June 14 to 20, “brushes cautious optimism, with a long way to go. ”

“We continue to see positive signs following the recovery plan for British Columbia,” she said.

According to data released by Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate fell 0.4% in June after rising for three consecutive months.

The agency said the number of people employed in British Columbia had increased by 118,000 last month, after an increase of 43,000 in May. The province has continued to lift restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 in recent weeks, allowing more businesses to reopen.

James said the job gains seen in May and June bring about 40 percent of the total job losses that British Columbia has experienced since February. The total net job loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic is approximately 235,000.

She said the largest overall job losses were in the service sector, but that the sector also saw the largest gains, accounting for 50 percent of the job gains in June.

Youth unemployment remains a concern

James said one area of ​​major concern remains youth unemployment, which currently stands at 29.1%. In British Columbia, 45,000 young people found work last month – but the youth unemployment rate is rising due to the increase in the number of people trying to join the job market.

Nationally, the economy created 953,000 jobs last month, more than double the 290,000 created in May. Despite two months of growth, there are still 1.8 million fewer jobs in Canada than in February.

The unemployment rate fell to 12.3%, down from the record high of 13.7 in May.

Iglika Ivanova, economist at the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, said British Columbia is slightly behind the rest of Canada in terms of actual hours worked.

“We have proportionately more people who work technically, but who work zero hours or are not paid,” she said, explaining that the nature of the closures of COVID-19 meant that many workers had their hours reduced or reduced entirely, without being dismissed. of.

The American Pub is pictured in Vancouver on June 29. British Columbia added 118,000 jobs last month, according to Statistics Canada. (Ben Nelms / CBC)

Ivanova said the unemployment rate also does not fully capture the labor market disruption. Unemployment rates represent the number of people actively applying for jobs, and Ivanova said many people are still reluctant to re-enter the job market, worried about the lack of opportunities, the availability of child care. children or waiting for their former employer to tell them they can return to work.

“I think it is really important that we are still far from where we were in February,” she said.

Male employment bounces faster

The agency noted that men are closer than women to pre-closure employment levels in all age groups.

Jobs in male-dominated sectors, such as construction and manufacturing, rebounded faster than those in the service, tourism and accommodation industries, where women tend to be employed in larger proportions.

Ivanova said government recovery spending must be targeted in order to bridge this gap.

“We need to take this into account in the recovery … to balance the natural course of this recession, which is bringing men back to work faster than women,” she said, adding that decisions about child care and Back to school in the fall will be key.

Another statement on British Columbia employment numbers is expected next week.

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