Unemployment in B.C.: Latest job stats show impact of recent COVID-19 health orders
Vancouver's skyline at sunrise is shown in this undated handout photo. Vancouver has been placed on travel site Lonely Planet's top ten list of cities to visit in 2020. (Destination BC/Albert Normandin via The Canadian Press)
VANCOUVER -- B.C.'s unemployment rates have increased slightly for the first time since January, a change that B.C.'s jobs minister says shows the impact of recent public health orders meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.
According to Statistics Canada's monthly labour force survey released Friday, B.C.'s unemployment rate was at 7.1 per cent in April up slightly from March's rate of 6.9. The month before that, the unemployment rate was also 6.9 per cent.
These job figures are the first to reflect restrictions placed on restaurants and adult fitness programs on March 30, limiting their operation. Those restrictions are scheduled to be in place through the May long weekend.
"The vast majority of the job losses last month were part time and in accommodation and food services, as well as information, culture and recreation," said Ravi Kahlon, minister of jobs, economy recovery and innovation, in a news release.
"These sectors were directly impacted by Dr. Bonnie Henry's health orders, known as the 'circuit breaker,' designed to bend the curve of B.C.'s third wave."
Nationwide, the unemployment rate climbed 0.6 percentage points to 8.1 per cent. Overall, the Canadian economy lost 207,000 jobs in April.
"B.C. lost 43,000 jobs as the impacts of the provincial health officer's temporary orders were felt by businesses and workers," Kahlon said.
"The decline in April follows 11 consecutive months of job gains. B.C. currently leads all major provinces in job recovery."
More locally, some B.C. cities saw increases in unemployment in April, while two saw a decrease.
In Vancouver, unemployment dropped from eight per cent to 7.4. In Victoria, the rate rose from 5.7 per cent to 6.2, the labour force survey says.
In Abbotsford-Mission, the unemployment rate also improved, moving from 6.3 per cent in March to 5.5 in April.
Kelowna's rate increased from five per cent to 5.7.
When the pandemic first hit last year, the unemployment rate rose significantly in the province, reaching a high of 13.4 per cent in May. At the time, officials connected that high figure to economic slowdown from the province's COVID-19 response, and it gradually decreased as businesses reopened in the spring and summer.
"While April was a difficult month for many, we’re seeing positive signs this will only be a temporary setback as we continue to move toward recovery," Kahlon said.
"Most importantly, we're seeing that the health orders and restrictions are working, as our daily case counts have gone down significantly."
While daily COVID-19 case counts are starting to decline in B.C., the latest unemployment figures are a snapshot from April 11 to 17, when the rolling seven-day average reached it's record-high level of 1,130 on April 12. As of Thursday, that average had dipped below 700 for the first time since March 26.