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Northeast B.C. unemployment down to 4.4%

The biggest gains in B.C.'s labour market were in information, culture, and recreation, while the biggest losses hit health care
Heart rate monitor, patient and doctors in background in intensive care unit or emergency room - stock photo
Healthcare saw some of the biggest job losses in B.C. in July, down 9,300 jobs.

Unemployment in Northeast B.C. pushed down to 4.4% in July as the latest figures from Stats Canada show the number of people employed in the region grew by more than 1,000 from the previous month.

There were 37,100 employed and 1,700 unemployed out of a labour force of 38,800 people, according to the estimates from the monthly labour force survey.

Month-over-month, employment is up 1,100 people from June when 36,000 people were reported working, and employment is also up from July 2021, when 36,600 were working.

B.C. unemployment at a glance:

  • Vancouver Island and Coast - 3.7
  • Kootenay - 3.9
  • Northeast - 4.4
  • North Coast and Nechako - 4.6
  • Lower Mainland Southwest - 4.8
  • Thompson-Okanagan - 5.0
  • Cariboo - 6.3

Overall, B.C. added just 500 jobs in July, down significantly from a month earlier when the province added 6,100 jobs.

The biggest gains in B.C.'s labour market came in the information, culture, and recreation bucket (+12,200 jobs); the construction sector (+4,600 jobs); and finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (+3,300 jobs).

The biggest losses hit health care (-9,300 jobs) and manufacturing (-8,900 jobs).

The Canadian economy also appears to be coming back down to Earth amid economic uncertainty, as the country lost 31,600 jobs last month, according to data released Friday by Statistics Canada.

B.C.’s unemployment rate ticked upward by 0.1 percentage point to 4.7%, while the national rate was unchanged at a historic low of 4.9% as the country lost 30,600 jobs at the same time many departed the labour market.

"What's not entirely clear yet is whether the pullback in jobs is due to a lack of demand for workers — a slower economy — or a lack of supply of workers," BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said in a note, referring to the national numbers. “Canada's job market is clearly losing momentum in a hurry, likely due to both a marked cooling in the broader economy but also because a lack of available workers.”

The province is forecasting there will be one million job openings over the next decade and a potential shortage of 86,000 workers in the labour market.

“We're going to have to welcome people to British Columbia from other parts of the country,” said provincial jobs minister Ravi Kahlon.

He said the province recently asked the federal government to boost B.C.’s allotment of foreign skilled workers brought into Canada via the Provincial Nominee Program, from 7,000 this year to 25,000 by 2025.

“We know where our labor market needs are. We just need to have the tools to be able to welcome people here to fill these important jobs.”

When asked if decades-high inflation might dissuade some from moving to B.C., where the cost of living is already particularly high, Kahlon said it’s a problem jurisdictions are facing all over the world.

— with files from Tyler Orton/Business in Vancouver

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