B.C. adds 70K jobs in July as retail, food services make gains

B.C. added 70,200 jobs in July as Phase 3 of the economic restart plan continued to stoke business activity across the West Coast.

Significant recoveries in retail/wholesale and the food services/accommodation sectors helped bring the unemployment rate down 1.9 percentage points to 11.1%, according to data released Friday (August 7) from Statistics Canada.

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The country as a whole added 418,500 jobs last month while the national unemployment rate declined 1.4 percentage points to 10.9%.

Prior to the pandemic, the B.C. unemployment rate was consistently the lowest among all provinces.

It now exceeds unemployment rates in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said in a note to investors that most of the above-mentioned provinces were not as hard hit by the pandemic and were able to reopen their economies earlier.

Metro Vancouver’s unemployment rate continued to lag the rest of the province at 11.6% —down from 14.6% a month earlier — while the region added 48,200 jobs.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of the jobs added across the province were part-time positions, which accounted for 48,500 of the jobs gained compared with 21,7000 full-time jobs added.

By industry, retail/wholesale witnessed the largest surge, adding 24,200 positions last month.

Food services and accommodation followed closely behind with 24,100 jobs added.

Another tourism-related category — the information, culture and recreation sector — added 9,000 jobs, while the manufacturing sector added 7,300 jobs and construction added 5,000 jobs.

Educational services, meanwhile, shed 7,300 jobs.

And while frontline workers have been top of mind for many British Columbians, the health care and social assistance category saw 2,400 jobs evaporate last month.

Professional, scientific and technical services experienced a decline of 2,300 jobs and the agriculture sector shed 1,800 jobs.

“For a change, employment was relatively close to expectations in July with a solid advance, and we would look for something roughly comparable in August as Ontario more fully [reopens],” Porter said, referring to national job numbers. 

“However, even then, it's clear that fully recouping the shutdown losses will be a much lengthier affair, and the gains will be harder to come by now.”

B.C. added 43,300 jobs in May as lockdowns on non-essential businesses began to ease before the beginning of Phase 3 brought 118,100 job gains in June.

“With more than half of losses now recovered, we've seen as unprecedented a recovery in employment as the initial shock itself. Still, when you're a bit more than halfway to recovery, there is a long road ahead, and continued gains of the magnitudes we've been seeing are unlikely,” TD senior economist Brian DePratto said in a note to investors.

“If this is indeed a 'checkmark' or 'swoosh' recovery, expect these and other impressive near-term gains to give way to a much more gradual recovery path and one that will feel very different across industries.”


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