Another 1,200 jobs were added in northeast B.C. in September, with regional unemployment steady at 7% — the lowest in all of B.C.
There were 38,300 employed and 2,900 unemployed last month, according to Statistics Canada estimates released Oct. 9.
The northeast had the lowest unemployment rate reported in B.C. for September, with the Lower Mainland Southwest reporting the highest at 10.6%, followed by the Cariboo at 10.5%
The region has seen 4,700 jobs return since the spring economic restart; 1,800 jobs were added in July and 1,700 were added in August. Between March and June, the region lost 5,400 jobs because of COVID-19 pandemic and economic lockdown.
This time last year there were 39,400 employed and 2,600 unemployed, with unemployment at 6.2%.
Provincially, B.C. added 54,800 jobs in August, with unemployment down by 2.3 percentage points to 8.4%.
Canada added 378,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate fell 1.2 percentage points to 9%.
September marks the first time since the outset of the pandemic that B.C.’s unemployment rate has fallen below that of the national average.
"No two ways about it, this ranks as a major pleasant surprise, especially after the so-so job gains seen stateside in the same month," BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said in a note to investors.
“The overall tone of this report is still quite upbeat, no doubt supported by school reopenings. However, the more recent steep upswing in new virus cases and some renewed restrictions point to markedly cooler job gains ahead. Still, this positive release means the starting point is much better than expected.”
RBC senior economist Nathan Janzen was less upbeat about the latest data:
“The numbers will do little to calm concerns that the broader pace of the recovery in labour markets is slowing. The initial recovery in employment has been led by the return to work of those on temporary layoff from the spring,” he said in a note.
“The larger concern remains the extent to which the latest round of virus spread will prompt additional containment measures and keep more households at home. The near-term economic bounce-back through the summer was been stronger than feared in the spring, but the outlook is still exceptionally cloudy.”
B.C.’s construction sector led losses with a decline of 14,600 jobs between August and September. The forestry, fishing, mining, and oil and gas sector lost 900 jobs, and farming lost 900.
Losses were also felt in accommodation and food services, which recorded a decline of 2,200 jobs. This comes as the province implemented new restrictions on bars and restaurants in mid-September.
B.C.’s biggest gains were seen in educational services (+17,100 jobs), finance (+7,600), and manufacturing (+6,800 jobs).
Unemployment rates in B.C.:
Lower Mainland Southwest - 10.6
Cariboo - 10.5
Vancouver Island and Coast - 9.3
Thompson-Okanagan - 9.0
North Coast and Nechako - 9.0 Kootenay - 8.9
Northeast - 7.0
— with a report from Tyler Orton in Vancouver
Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at email@example.com.