Unemployment rises again in B.C. amid 2nd wave of COVID-19 pandemic
VANCOUVER -- For the second month in a row, unemployment climbed again in B.C. as the province managed its second wave of COVID-19.
According to Statistics Canada's monthly labour force survey released Friday, B.C.'s unemployment rate was at 8 per cent in January – up from 7.2 per cent the month before. November's unemployment rate was 7.1.
Nationwide, the unemployment rate rose 0.6 percentage points to 9.4 per cent, the highest rate since August.
“The thing is, we weren’t expecting a loss to this degree,” said BNN Bloomberg’s Greg Bonnell. “We actually thought the Canadian economy was dealing with the pandemic closures a little bit better the second time around.”
B.C. saw six months of steady improvement in job figures last year, after unemployment reached a high of 13.4 per cent in May. 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.
But now, the province has seen two straight months of unemployment increases.
“We knew these would be tough times right January and February,” said Bonnell. “We hit a Canadian winter, we hit the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closures came back into effect. The Bank of Canada and other economists said this is going to be a tough time.”
More locally, some B.C. cities saw improvements in January, while one saw its unemployment rise.
In Vancouver, unemployment increased from 7.3 per cent to 7.8. But both Victoria and Abbotsford-Mission's rates decreased.
Victoria's unemployment rate was five per cent in January, down from 5.8. And Abbotsford-Mission's was 7.8 per cent, down from 8.3.
Kelowna's rate stayed steady from December to January at 4.6.
“If we’re being told to stay home, we’re being told to limit our contacts with others, you’re just not partaking in life the way you used to,” said Bonnell.
In February – before a state of emergency was declared in the province – B.C.'s unemployment rate was five per cent.
With files from The Canadian Press