March saw a steep climb in the number of Peace Region residents claiming employment insurance benefits, the sixth-straight rise in the monthly unemployment indicator.
The number of people collecting benefits grew around 30 per cent since the start of 2016 in both Dawson Creek and Fort St. John.
As of the latest survey, conducted March 13-19, there were 870 employment insurance claims in Fort St. John and 420 in the Mile Zero City.
In April, regional unemployment sat at 9.4 per cent.
The jump in claims comes months before the rollout of the federal Liberal government's plan to extend EI benefits in oil-producing regions—reforms that are expected to lead to further growth in beneficiaries.
Those claims have grown steadily with the collapse in oil prices that began in late 2014.
In April of that year, just 150 people in Dawson Creek and 270 in Fort St. John claimed EI benefits. Since then, investment in upstream oil and gas plummeted between 30-40 per cent, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
Across Canada, claims grew 4.9 per cent overall largely due to job losses in Alberta. B.C. saw a year-to-year decrease of around one per cent.
People who have lost their jobs and are unable to find work are eligible to claim benefits. Statistics Canada seasonally adjusts the reported number of claims to take into account seasonal jobs.
The agency notes "a certain proportion of unemployed people" do not qualify for benefits, including people who have not worked for a year and those whose employment is not insured.
Around 4,000 people in Northeast B.C. were without a job in April, according to Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey.