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Northeast B.C. jobs count down by 1,100 in February

Employment in Northeast B.C. plunged by 1,100 jobs in February, though the unemployment rate was still too low to be reported for a third straight month, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.
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Material is placed in the upstream area of the Site C dam, January 2022.

Employment in Northeast B.C. plunged by 1,100 jobs in February, though the unemployment rate was still too low to be reported for a third straight month, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.

There were an estimated 36,200 people employed last month out of an estimated labour force of 37,400, according to the estimates released Friday, March 11.

Unemployment figures as well as the unemployment rate for the month were suppressed to meet confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act, according to Stats Canada. The agency says it suppresses estimates below 1,500 unemployed people to prevent “direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data." 

With a reported labour force of 37,400 in February, there were about 1,200 unemployed, according to the data. 

Month-over-month, the jobs count is down from January, when 37,300 were employed and unemployment was also too low to be reported. Year-over-year, employment numbers are down from February 2021, when 39,700 people were employed.

The region's labour force has also shrunk significantly year over year, down from 41,500 at this time last year. The labour participation rate in the region has also fallen considerably, down from 75.7% last February to 67.5% last month.

Unemployment rates in B.C., February 2022

  • Northeast B.C. - N/A
  • Cariboo - 3.0%
  • Lower Mainland/Southwest - 5.1%
  • North Coast & Nechako - 5.2%
  • Vancouver Island/Coast - 5.2%
  • Kootenay - 5.5%
  • Thompson/Okanagan - 5.9%

B.C.’s labour market overall added 21,000 jobs in February, the seventh straight month of gains going back to August 2021.

The unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage points compared with a month earlier to land at 4.9%.

The biggest gains came in the tech sector (+10,900 jobs), education (+8,800 jobs) and manufacturing (+5,400 jobs).

Losses were felt in business, building and other support services (-7,800 jobs), wholesale and retail (-4,200 jobs), and public administration (-3,300 jobs).

Canada overall added 337,000 jobs to the economy last month after more than 200,000 jobs were shed a month earlier amid the sharp rise of Omicron cases and the reintroduction of tighter restrictions in many provinces. The national unemployment rate fell 1 percentage point to 5.5% between January and February.

“Disruptions from the rapid spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant were significant in January, but the economic impact of the pandemic is clearly getting smaller,” Nathan Janzen, RBC assistant chief economist, said in a note.

“Labour markets remain extremely tight with the number of available workers being outpaced by job openings. A shrinking pool of available workers is making it difficult for businesses to hire across industries, including the accommodation and food services sector where employment is still well-below pre-pandemic levels.”

Janzen said the global economic uncertainty brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not enough to justify continued ultra-low interest rates. Earlier this month the Bank of Canada hiked its overnight rate for the first time since 2018.

— with files from Tyler Orton