BRITISH COLUMBIA – Canadian employment rose by 337,000 (+1.8 per cent) in February more than reversing a 200,000 decline in January driven by Omicron-related public health measures, according to Statistics Canada. The labour market is increasingly tight, with the Canadian unemployment rate declining to 5.5 per cent, a level lower than prior to the pandemic in February 2020 (5.7 per cent) for the first time. The total hours worked (+3.6 per cent) as well as the employment rate (+1.0 per cent) also rose strongly.
As public health measures were partly lifted by the survey reference week in February, gains were concentrated in the Accommodation and Food Services (+114,000; +12.6 per cent), and Information, Culture and Recreation (+73,000; +9.9 per cent) sectors. Private sector employment rose by 2.8 per cent to 347,000. On a year-over-year basis, wages were up 3.1 per cent. The number of long-term unemployed Canadians fell by 51,000 (-19.4 per cent) in February.
In BC, employment rose more modestly than the rest of Canada (+21,000; 0.8 per cent), but growth is very strong given that the province suffered no employment decline in January. Employment growth in February was concentrated in the Vancouver CMA (+18,000). Seasonally-adjusted employment in BC is not only above pre-pandemic levels, but hit a record high for a 5th consecutive month. The unemployment rate continued declining in BC, reaching 4.9 per cent, the lowest rate since January 2020. Among the provinces, only Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have lower unemployment rates.