Northeast B.C. lost 500 jobs in January though the unemployment rate was still too low to be reported for a second-straight month, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.
There were an estimated 37,300 people employed last month out of an estimated labour force of 38,300, according to the estimates released Friday, Feb. 4.
Unemployment figures as well as the unemployment rate for the month were suppressed to meet confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act, according to Stats Canada. The agency says it suppresses estimates below 1,500 unemployed people to prevent “direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data."
With a reported labour force of 38,300 in December, there were about 1,000 unemployed, according to the data.
Month-over-month, the jobs count is down from December, when 37,800 were employed and unemployment was also too low to be reported. Year-over-year, employment numbers are down from January 2021, when 40,100 were employed.
The region's labour force has also shrunk significantly year over year, down from 41,800 at this time last year. The labour participation rate in the region has also fallen considerably, down from 76.3% last January to 69.1% last month.
Unemployment rates in B.C., January 2022
Northeast B.C. - N/A
Cariboo - 3.2%
North Coast & Nechako - 4.3%
Vancouver Island/Coast - 4.8%
Lower Mainland/Southwest - 5.4%
Thompson/Okanagan - 5.9%
Kootenay - 6.4%
B.C. added 4,200 jobs overall in January at the same time the country as a whole posted a loss of 200,000 jobs.
The province managed to avoid serious job losses last month even as the highly contagious COVID-19 Omicron variant made its way through Canada and brought on additional restrictions.
“The Omicron wave and associated lockdowns forced many businesses to adjust on the fly. They did this by cutting jobs and hours significantly,” TD senior economist James Orlando said in a note, referring to the national numbers.
“Notably, all of the increase in unemployment was due to more people on temporary lay-off or scheduled to start a job in the near future, suggesting the setback will be short lived.”
The province’s unemployment fell 0.3 percentage points between December and January to land at 5.1%, while Canada saw its unemployment rate increase 0.5 percentage points to 6%.
B.C.’s biggest gains came in retail/wholesale trade (+6,800 jobs); natural resources (+3,800 jobs); and finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (+3,900 jobs).
The biggest losses came in agriculture (-3,700 jobs); business, building and other support services (-5,500 jobs); and construction (-2,000 jobs).
Ontario (-145,700 jobs) and Quebec (-63,000 jobs), the country’s two most populace provinces, were home to the vast majority of Canada’s losses last month.
Those provinces have also imposed tighter restrictions amid the pandemic compared with B.C.
“The reality is that no one will be seriously surprised by these figures, since it is almost a carbon copy of the setbacks seen in the second and third waves," BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said in a note.
“As the restrictions have begun to ease in recent days in Ontario and Quebec, look for a sturdy rebound in jobs in the next two months.”
— with files from Tyler Orton