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Northeast unemployment too low to report to end 2022

Region ends year with province's highest employment and labour participation rates
A worker patches concrete barrier at the Lynx Creek Bridge.

Unemployment in Northeast B.C. ended 2022 the same way it ended 2021: too low to report.

However, there were 500 fewer people working in the region in December 2022 as compared to December 2021, according to estimates released Friday by Statistics Canada.

Stats-Can reported an estimated 37,300 people employed last month out of an estimated labour force of 38,200.

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

Given the provided labour force figures, however, there were about 900 unemployed, according to the data.

Year-over-year, the employment count is down from last December, when 37,800 were working in the region. Month-over-month, employment is up 100 from November, when 37,200 were reported employed.

Posted unemployment rates for the region averaged around 4.6% in 2022, and peaked at 5% in May and June.

Unemployment figures were also suppressed in September, October, and November, and during the first three months of 2022.

And among all economic regions of B.C., the northeast ended 2022 with the highest overall employment rate, at 67.1%, and labour participation, at 68.7%.

2022 Northeast B.C. unemployment:

B.C., meanwhile, added 16,600 jobs during the holiday season.

Last month’s hiring surge pushed the provincial unemployment rate down 0.2 percentage points (4.2%) compared with a month prior when the province shed 13,300 jobs.

Canada added 104,000 jobs last month as the national unemployment rate declined 0.1 percentage point to 5%, according to Statistics Canada data released on Friday.

The most notable gains in B.C.’s job market came in transportation and warehousing (+8,300 jobs); other services (+7,500 jobs); and finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (+4,400 jobs).

Losses were felt most acutely in wholesale and retail trade (-3,000 jobs); business, building and other support services (-3,800 jobs); and health care and social assistance (-2,100 jobs).

More rate hikes predicted

The Bank of Canada hiked its key rate seven consecutive times in 2022 in a bid to cool the economy and tamp down on inflation.

B.C. answered the central bank’s late October rate hike by quickly shedding more than 13,000 jobs in November. But the Bank of Canada’s early December rate hike did not seem to cloud the job market in the same way as the province recouped those losses that same month.

Despite last month’s headline gains, data shows the province lost 7,900 full-time jobs. The surge in hiring instead came via part-time positions (+24,500 jobs).

This stands in stark contrast to gains on the national level, which saw 85,000 full-time jobs added to the economy last month.

“While it's always dangerous to read too much into a single Canadian jobs report, it's safe to conclude that the economy still had some serious zip at the end of last year," BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said in a note.

“At the very least, today's robust results support the view that the BoC will hike rates again later this month.”

He’s predicting the central bank will hike its key rate by 25 basis points, which would bring the key rate to 4.5 per cent.

“The Canadian labour market remains much stronger than expected and (so far) apparently resilient to rapidly rising interest rates," CIBC senior economist Andrew Grantham said in a note, adding he also expects a rate hike of 25 basis points at month’s end.

— with files from Tyler Orton, Business in Vancouver

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