Economy in Surprise Rebound, Adding 2.5 Million Jobs

Finance Minister Carole James speaks at a press conference at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria

Finance Minister Carole James speaks at a press conference at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria

James said young people have been among the hardest hit in the province as the youth unemployment rate hit 28.9 per cent and 115,000 jobs have been lost among that age group since the pandemic began.

Additionally, the number of permanent job losses increased by 295,000 to 2.3 million.

Some economists had predicted a loss of 500,000 jobs in May and an unemployment rate of 15.0 %, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

The city's unemployment rate jumped to 13.6 per cent, up from 10 per cent in April, and slightly higher than Calgary's unemployment rate of 13.4 per cent.

James said, to date, more than 521,000 people in B.C. have received the one-time $1,000 B.C. emergency benefit for workers.

According to Statistics Canada, the country is experiencing a record-high unemployment rate at 13.7 per cent, though the economy added almost 300,000 jobs in May. Growth in unemployment was driven instead by an increase in job seekers, especially re-entrants to the labour force who had worked within the past year.

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Those figures were mirrored in B.C., where 43,300 jobs were added last month, but unemployment reached 13.4 per cent - up from 7.2 in March and five in February. The number of unemployed who were jobless five to 14 weeks rose by 7.8 million, to 14.8 million, accounting for about 70.8 percent of the unemployed.

Much of the low unemployment in the capital region reflects the devastating blow to the region's tourism sector, with seasonal businesses wondering if they will be able to survive.

A month-over-month downside: while average hourly earnings for all employees on private payrolls had zoomed up $1.35 in April, the rate fell 29 cents to $29.75, in May.

With restrictions easing, the survey found people beginning to return to their places of work.

The survey said unlike previous economic downturns, the impact of the COVID-19 economic shutdown was felt first in the services-producing sector and spread to goods-producing industries including construction and manufacturing by the last week of March.

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