Employment numbers continued to drop in northeast B.C. in June, with 700 fewer people working and regional unemployment recorded at 10.7%.
There were 33,600 people employed and 4,000 unemployed here last month, according to estimates released by Statistics Canada on July 10.
Employment in the region has dropped by 5,400 since the pandemic and lockdown restrictions began in March, when 39,000 were employed. The region saw 2,500 job losses in April, and another 2,200 in May.
At this time last year, there were 38,300 employed and 2,700 unemployed, with unemployment reported at 6.6%.
Provincially, B.C. added 118,100 jobs last month, with the unemployment rate at an even 13%, down marginally from 13.4% in May.
Canada added 953,000 jobs as unemployment dropped 1.4 percentage points to 12.3%.
B.C.'s biggest job surge was seen in the accommodation and food services sector, which added 54,800 jobs last month as restaurants opened and British Columbians began travelling throughout the province once again.
Other significant gains were recorded in the professional, scientific and technical services sector (+17,600 jobs), wholesale and retail trade (+16,100 jobs), and health care and social assistance (+9,800 jobs).
Construction posted 8,200 job gains, while forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, and oil and gas posted gains of 1,200.
Manufacturing, meanwhile, posted 6,800 job losses.
“From pre-virus levels, Ontario is still the laggard, with Alberta and B.C. next,” BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said in a note to investors.
“On the flip side, provinces that were less affected by the virus have not surprisingly moved closer to normal levels, with New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan leading.”
He said the latest data shows a "solid second step on the road to recovery" but cautioned there is still a long way to go.
Porter expects gains in July numbers but added “after this initial, mechanical bounce, the next stages are likely to be much slower going.”
Finance Minister Carole James says the provincial numbers paint a picture of cautious optimism with a long road ahead on B.C.'s path to recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She says job gains in May and June bring back about 40 per cent of the total number of jobs lost since February.
Despite positive signs, James says thousands of people and businesses are still struggling, and net job losses since the start of the pandemic stand at 235,000.
James says youth unemployment in particular stands out at 29.1 per cent, up slightly since May, while 45,000 young people did find jobs last month.
— with a report from Tyler Orton in Vancouver, and The Canadian Press
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