Skip to content

4,000 unemployed in northeast as B.C. tops jobs numbers

B.C. records lowest unemployment rate in Canada for first time in recorded history
signs
Help wanted signs from early 2014, when the Peace Region was at near-full employment. Now, the region has the highest unemployment rate in B.C.

April was a good month for job growth in B.C.—with one glaring exception.

B.C. outperformed the other provinces on job creation in April, adding 13,000 jobs and cutting the unemployment rate by 0.7 per cent, according to Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey

"This is the first time that British Columbia has had the lowest unemployment rate among all the provinces since comparable data became available in 1976," the survey states.

But in the northeast, the picture remains grim.

The Peace and Fort Nelson had B.C.'s highest unemployment rate as the oil and gas downturn continues to take its toll.

Over 4,000 people in Northeast B.C. are unemployed according to jobless numbers released May 6.

At 9.4 per cent, the region was ahead of Thompson-Okanagan, which had a rate of 8.6 per cent. The regional unemployment rate doubled from 4.7 per cent a year ago.

B.C.'s unemployment rate was 6.5 per cent, virtually unchanged from a year ago. National unemployment was down one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.1 per cent.  

Newfoundland's South Coast had a rate of 22.8 per cent—Canada's highest.

Between April 2015 and last month, Northeast B.C.'s workforce fell from 40,400 to 39,300. In that time, the number of unemployed grew from 2,000 to 4,100.

Across Canada, employment in natural resources fell by 23,000 year-to-year, a loss of 6.4 per cent. Employment in the industry is down 50,000 (12.9 per cent) since peaking in April 2014. Gains in the wholesale and retail sectors, however, softened the impacts on overall unemployment.  

B.C.'s job gains were driven by those sectors, as well as health care and social assistance and construction.  

April ended a seven-month streak of increases in the local unemployment rate. However, Statistics Canada advises against comparing unemployment rates month-to-month since the numbers are not adjusted for seasonal factors.

Northeast B.C.'s unemployment rate has grown steadily with the downturn in oil and gas prices that began in late 2014.

reporter@dcdn.ca