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Northeast B.C. unemployment pushes up to 4.8%

Unemployment has been too low to report since December
100Street-May2022
Construction crews dig up 100 Street and 100 Avenue in Fort St. John.

Employment in Northeast B.C. grew by 100 jobs in April though a streak of low unemployment in the region came to an end, according to the latest estimates from Stats Canada.

There were 35,500 people employed here last month out of an estimated labour force of 37,300, according to the monthly labour force survey.

But at the same time, there were 1,800 people unemployed, pushing regional unemployment up to 4.8%, and ending a four-month streak where unemployment has been too low to report since December.

The number of people working in the region has fallen from the start of 2022, with the estimated number of people employed down from 37,300 in January, to 36,200 in February, and to 35,400 in March.

Year-over-year, employment is down from April 2021, when 39,200 people were employed and unemployment was reported at 4.9%.

The region's labour force remains muted after having shrunk during the pandemic — down from 41,200 at this time last year. The percentage of available workers participating in the labour force is also still down sharply, from 75.2% last April to 67.2% last month.

Unemployment in B.C.:

  • Cariboo - 4.5

  • Northeast - 4.8

  • Kootenay - 4.9

  • Vancouver Island and Coast - 5.0

  • Lower Mainland Southwest - 5.1

  • North Coast and Nechako - 6.1

  • Thompson-Okanagan - 6.1

B.C. shed 2,000 jobs in April, the first time it’s posted losses since July 2021. These losses helped increase the unemployment rate 0.3 percentage points to 5.4% last month.

Canada’s unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 5.2% as the country added 15,300 jobs.

Notable losses hit B.C.’s transportation/warehousing sector (-5,000 jobs), health care (-4,800 jobs), and accommodation/food services (-3,700 jobs).

Business, building and other support services (+5,800 jobs) saw the biggest gains, followed by finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing positions (+3,900 jobs).

“The low jobless rates in almost all provinces drive home the bigger point that the labour market is now extraordinarily tight,” BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said in a note. 

“In fact, perhaps one reason for the rapid moderation in job growth is that employers simply can no longer find workers – so the cooling is more of a supply side story (lack of available workers) and not an indication of slowing demand.”

CIBC economist Andrew Grantham said in a note the latest jobs numbers won't deter the Bank of Canada from hiking its key rate another 50 basis points following its next announcement in June.

— with files from Tyler Orton


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