The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
Jobless Rate Climbs as BC Economy Lags
The number of people out of work in B.C. was up last month – to 7.9 per
cent from 7.3 per cent in January.
The monthly Statistics Canada report says B.C. lost 36,000 jobs in
February, with the retail and construction the hardest hit.
In Vancouver, the unemployment rate rose from 6.2 per cent in January
to 6.3 per cent in February. Victoria's jobless picture also
worsened – from 5.5 per cent in January to 5.6 per cent last month.
“The largest employment loss in British Columbia was in retail trade,
and may be the result of weaker consumer spending over this past
holiday season,” Statscan said. “Employment also dropped in
construction, following consecutive monthly declines in housing starts.
The employment decline in February pushed the unemployment rate up by
0.6 percentage points to 7.9 per cent.”
Despite a brief increase in job creation in the last quarter of 2003,
Statscan reports show BC’s economy has been slowing down relative to
the rest of the country, with unemployment continuing on an overall
rise, mostly among men.
BC was also hardest hit by rising youth unemployment, now at 14.1 per
cent. Despite the usual pre-Christmas hiring spurt among youth, the
report says youth faced a dismal job climate for all of last year—the
worst being in BC.
Nationally, the unemployment rate held steady at 7.4 per cent, with the
loss of more than 21,000 jobs. Economists had been looking for an
increase of at least 15,000 jobs.
Across the country, growth in full-time employment continued for adult
women, pushing up overall employment for this group by 20,000 in
February. Their unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 5.8 per
cent. Since August 2003, employment among adult women has grown more
rapidly (+2.1 per cent) than among adult men (+1.0 per cent), whose
employment level was little changed in February for a second
consecutive month. The unemployment rate among adult men edged up 0.1
percentage points to 6.3 per cent.
The jobless rate climbed by an estimated 31,000 positions in health
care and social assistance. The decrease was mainly observed among
women in Ontario. Despite this drop, the report says the health care
and social assistance sector has been following an upward trend since
the summer of 2001.
Weakness in manufacturing continued in February, with employment little
changed (-12,000) for a third consecutive month. This leaves
manufacturing jobs down 83,000 (-3.5 per cent) since November 2002,
when the downward trend began.
“Following strong job growth in the past two years, employment has
weakened in the construction sector, with cumulative losses of 18,000
jobs in January and February,” the report said. “The loss observed in
February was concentrated in Quebec and British Columbia, while Ontario
accounted for all of the decline in January.”
Despite continued cuts and austerity across the country, employment in
educational services actually increased by 20,000 in February, spread
over a number of provinces. The growth occurred mainly in elementary
and secondary education. Despite this increase, employment in
educational services has changed little over the past year. Statscan
The transportation and warehousing sectors experienced a job increased
of 16,000 in February, almost all in Ontario. This continues the upward
trend for this sector that began in the summer of 2003.
In February, a drop of 21,000 self-employed workers and a slight
decrease in the number of employees in the private sector more than
offset the increase of 24,000 employees in the public sector. Since
August 2003, the number of public sector employees has grown by 3.1 per
cent (+92,000), exceeding the 1.1 per cent (+118,000) growth in the
number of private sector employees.
As a result of the weakness in construction and retail trade in
February, the number of self-employed workers has now returned to about
the same level as in August 2003 (-0.4 per cent).
Following two consecutive monthly increases, employment levels in
Ontario have stayed roughly the same so far this year, and the
unemployment rate remained at 6.6 per cent. A sharp decrease in jobs in
the health care and social assistance sector was offset by increases in
transportation and warehousing and in retail and wholesale trade.
In Quebec, employment was little changed for the second consecutive
month. Gains in retail and wholesale trade were offset by a decrease in
construction in February. The unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage
points in February to 8.8 per cent, the result of a decline in labour
P.E.I. saw the biggest jobless jump from January to February of nearly
one per cent, while New Brunswick saw a similar drop in its rate.