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Northeast B.C. unemployment unchanged at 5% in June

There were 36,000 people employed and 1,900 unemployed in the region last month
Construction at Kin Park in Fort St. John, June 1, 2022.

The unemployment rate in Northeast B.C. remained unchanged at 5% in June, according to the latest numbers from Stats Canada.

There were 36,000 people employed and 1,900 unemployed in the region last month, of a labour force of 37,900, according to the monthly labour force survey.

Month-over-month, employment is down 200 jobs from May, when 36,200 people were reported working, while employment is down from June 2021, when 37,500 were working.

The region's labour force remains muted after shrinking during the pandemic — down from 38,900 at this time last year. The percentage of available workers participating in the labour force also remains down, from 70.9% last June to 68.2% last month, and with overall employment down from 68.3% to 64.7% year over year.

The number of people working in the region has fluctuated since the start of 2022; from 37,300 in January, to 36,200 in February, to 35,400 in March, to 35,500 in April, to 36,200 in May.

Unemployment in B.C.:

  • Kootenay - 3.8

  • Vancouver Island and Coast - 4.0

  • North Coast and Nechako - 4.2

  • Lower Mainland Southwest - 4.8

  • Northeast - 5.0

  • Thompson-Okanagan - 5.8

  • Cariboo - 5.9

B.C. overall added 6,100 jobs in June.

The province saw its unemployment rate edge upwards from May’s 4.5% to 4.6% in June despite the job gain; however, it still marks the second straight month where B.C. has added jobs (the gain was 5,100 in May) after losing 2,000 jobs in April.

The gains, data shows, come from full-time employment. B.C. in June gained 8,900 full-time jobs, a 0.4% increase from May and up 5.8% from June 2021. Part-time employment, meanwhile, dropped by 2,900 – a 0.5% decrease from the previous month.

Overall, B.C. employment rose by 0.2% month over month and 3.3% from the same period last year.

Those trends differ from that of the overall Canadian economy, where the country’s employment fell by 43,000 – or 0.2% - in June. This is Canada's first drop in national employment since January.

However, the unemployment rate also fell by 0.2% percentage points to a new historic low of 4.9% “as fewer people searched for work,” Statistics Canada said. It is the fourth straight month where national unemployment rates have plunged to new lows.

In fact, Statistics Canada noted that long-term unemployment in June across Canada has actually returned to per-pandemic levels for the first time. At the same time, average hourly wages rose again in June, up 5.2% to $31.24 year-over-year – an increase from the 3.9% reported in May.

According to the federal agency, the drop in employment nationally was concentrated among workers older than 55 in sectors such as retail trade, while industries where goods are produced made moderate gains. Quebec led the country in job losses, shedding 27,000 positions from month to month in June. Ontario (down 24,700) and Newfoundland and Labrador (4,300) also recorded employment dips.

The B.C. numbers again re-enforces the province’s concern that a tight labour market is limiting the provincial economy as it tries to jump-start itself after two years of COVID-induced malaise.

The biggest gains in employment in June made in B.C. were by the manufacturing sector, which added 8,400 jobs from May to June. Public administration also added 4,200 positions during that same period. Meanwhile, sectors such as finance/insurance/real estate (down 7,000), health care/social assistance (down 4,600) and accommodations/food services (down 3,900) saw the biggest drops in employment in B.C. in June.

— with files from Tyler Orton/Business in Vancouver

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