Stats-Can reports an estimated 34,800 people were employed last month in northeastern B.C.
The local jobs count is down by 1,300 from January, according to the agency’s latest labour force survey released March 10, in which B.C. as a whole added 6,700 jobs.
The regional unemployment rate was reported at 4.1%, with 1,500 estimated to be out of work.
Month-over-month, the jobs count is down from January, when 36,100 were reported to be employed and unemployment was also too low to be reported.
In February 2022, 36,200 people were reported employed, with unemployment estimates too low to report due to confidentiality.
B.C. unemployment rates, February 2023
- Kootenay - 2.9%
- Vancouver Island/Coast - 3.4%
- Northeast B.C. - 4.1%
- Thompson/Okanagan - 4.2%
- Lower Mainland/Southwest - 4.8%
- North Coast & Nechako - 5.9%
- Cariboo - 6.6%
B.C.’s unemployment rate jumped 0.7 percentage points between January and February. With more people entering the labour force, the rate now sits at 5.1%.
The biggest job losses were felt in wholesale/retail (-7,200 jobs), while the biggest gains came in healthcare (+8,100 jobs).
Overall, the country added 22,000 jobs and the national unemployment rate remained static at 5%.
The February jobs data comes after the Bank of Canada on Wednesday hit the pause button on rate hikes for the first time in a year.
“Arriving on the heels of the January jobs jamboree, this result is far too strong for the BoC's comfort. There simply is no sign that the labour market is succumbing whatsoever to the rapid-fire tightening of the past year,” BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said in a note, referring to the national numbers.
“The economy is likely just one wrong turn on the inflation front away from the Bank flipping back into rate-hiking mode.”
Andrew Grantham, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said the underlying trend of job growth remains stronger than what would normally be justified by the pace of GDP.
“Because of that, we still expect to see some softer employment figures and a gradual rise in the unemployment rate throughout the balance of this year, particularly as economic activity slows further with the lagged impact of past interest rate hikes,” he said in a note.
“However, for now the still historically low unemployment rate and strong wage growth will keep the Bank of Canada leaning towards future rate hikes, although we still don't think the data will be strong enough for policymakers to actually move again.”
—with files from Glacier Business Wire