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BC economy continues to bounce back amid COVID-19 pandemic

Photo of man in construction gear with a hard hat on holding a cement trowel walking along construction site

British Columbia’s job market remains steady as the economic effects of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continue across Canada.

British Columbia’s economy has bucked the national trend seen in recent weeks and was the only province to see an overall increase with a modest gain of 3,800 new jobs, according to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey for December 2020. The gains were seen in full-time jobs with 24,000 new positions in various sectors offset by a loss of 20,000 part-time jobs.

The province’s total employment is now back to 98.7% of pre-pandemic levels in February 2020.

“There is reason for hope in the long term as independent economists predict BC will lead all provinces with the highest gross domestic product growth in 2021 and the lowest unemployment…,” Ravi Kahlon, BC’s Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, said in a recent statement.

British Columbia continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at 7.2% in December, second only to Quebec, which had an unemployment rate of 6.7% last month. The national unemployment rate is 8.6%.

Overall, most provinces saw a decline in the number of jobs for the first time since the early weeks of the pandemic in April 2020. Nationally, Canada lost 63,000 jobs in December. Most of the jobs lost were in the service sector, with the restaurant and accommodation sectors taking the biggest hit.

Bank of Montreal economist Doug Porter told CBC News that the economic fallout from the second wave of the pandemic is “much less severe” than during the first wave in the spring.

“If there’s a silver lining, it’s that things could’ve been worse,” Indeed economist Brendon Bernard told CBC. “December’s drop was nowhere near the scale of the declines we saw last spring, and some areas of the economy, like manufacturing and professional services, still achieved solid gains.”

British Columbia saw the largest gains in the construction and manufacturing industries; wholesale and retail trade; transportation and warehousing; professional, scientific and technical services; business, building and other support services; and healthcare and social assistance. The educational services sector saw a small increase in December.

 

Published on Jan. 22, 2021.