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Local jobs count drops

1,200 fewer people were working in Northeast B.C. in January compared to one year ago
jobs market
The biggest gains in B.C. in January were in wholesale and retail trade (+18,100 jobs), and accommodation and food services (+7,100 jobs).

Unemployment data for Northeast B.C. continued to be too low to report by Statistics Canada in January.

However, there were 1,200 fewer people working in the region compared to one year ago in January 2022.

Stats-Can reported an estimated 36,100 people were employed last month out of a workforce of 37,200, in its latest labour force survey released Feb. 10.

Unemployment figures as well as the unemployment rate were suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act. Stats-Can says it suppresses estimates below 1,500 unemployed people to prevent “direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data."

Given the provided labour force figures, however, there were around 1,100 unemployed, or just under 3%, according to the data.

Month-over-month, the jobs count is down from December, when 37,300 were reported to be employed and unemployment was also too low to be reported. In January 2022, 37,300 people were reported employed, with unemployment data also suppressed.

Unemployment rates in B.C., January 2023

  • Northeast B.C. - n/a
  • Vancouver Island/Coast - 2.9%
  • Kootenay - 3.5%
  • Thompson/Okanagan - 4.3%
  • Lower Mainland/Southwest - 4.5%
  • North Coast & Nechako - 4.7%
  • Cariboo - 6.1%

Provincially, B.C. added 7,700 jobs in January at the same time the unemployment rate climbed to 4.4% (+0.3 percentage points) as more workers entered the job market.

The year kicked off with heavy losses in the tech sector (-15,100 jobs) amid cutbacks hitting the industry worldwide.

Tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon, which have significant operations in Vancouver, have been among those cutting jobs by the thousands in recent weeks and months. Medium-sized companies like Hootsuite, once considered a local tech darling, have also been laying off workers amid sector-wide belt-tightening.

But even those losses, combined with a string of eight consecutive interest-rate hikes going back to March 2022, weren’t enough to dampen B.C. job growth last month.

The biggest gains were felt in wholesale and retail trade (+18,100 jobs), and accommodation and food services (+7,100 jobs).

“There simply were far, far fewer layoffs than in a normal year at the start of 2023,” BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said in a note, referring to the national numbers.

“Instead of an actual hiring boom, what we instead saw last month was a layoff freeze, given how hard it is to find workers in the current environment”

Canada as a whole added 150,000 jobs overall as the unemployment rate remained unchanged month to month at 5%.

— with files from Glacier Business Wire

Editor's Note: Article updates to correct that B.C. added 7,700 jobs, not 15,300 jobs as previously reported.