Issue 17-71: Labour Force Statistics

April 7, 2017

B.C. Highlights

The unemployment rate in British Columbia was 5.4% in March, up from 5.1% in February, but lower than it was in March 2016, when it was 6.4%. Compared to February, there were 13,900 more people in the labour force. Employment grew (+4,200) during this time period, but the number of unemployed also went up (+9,700). Over the past twelve months, job growth (+81,900) was greater than the growth in the labour force (+60,000).

Compared to February, there were 2,200 fewer full-time jobs, while part-time jobs increased by 6,300.

In March, employment in the public sector went down (-6,900), while the number of jobs in the private sector grew (+18,600). The number of self-employed individuals fell (-7,600) during the same time period.

Provincial Comparisons

At 5.4%, British Columbia’s unemployment rate remained the lowest in Canada during the month of March. Manitoba (5.5%) and Saskatchewan (6.0%) recorded the second and third lowest unemployment rates. At 8.4%, Alberta’s unemployment rate was tied at sixth lowest among the provinces.

National Highlights

During the month of March, employment in Canada was little changed (+19,400 or +0.1%), while the unemployment rate rose 0.1 percentage points to 6.7% as more people searched for work.

Gender

In March, employment in British Columbia for men (aged 25 years and over) grew by 2,900 jobs, while the labour force increased by 7,600. As a result, the unemployment rate was 4.9%, up 0.3 percentage points from the previous month.

For women (aged 25 years and over), employment decreased by 2,300 jobs. The labour force also contracted, though at a slower pace (-1,900), with the unemployment rate steady at 4.3%.

Compared to March 2016, the unemployment rate for men was down by 1.0 percentage points to 4.9%, and for women it was down by 0.4 percentage points to 4.3%. Jobs for men increased by 23,300 (+2.2%) compared to a year ago, and for women employment climbed by 38,500 (+4.0%).

Youths Aged 15 to 24 Years

The unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 24 years rose by 1.0 percentage points to 9.7% in March. Employment increased by 3,600 jobs while the labour force strengthened by 8,200 people. Compared to March 2016, the unemployment rate for youth decreased by 2.8 percentage points to 9.7%.

Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs)

In March, employment rose in Kelowna (+6,200 or +6.7%), and areas outside the CMAs (+2,800 or + 0.4%). Employment was down in Vancouver (-3,400 or -0.2%), Victoria (-900 or -0.5%), and Abbotsford-Mission (-500 or -0.5%).

Industry

In March, employment in the goods-producing sector was relatively unchanged (-1,100 or -0.2%) overall. The majority of the employment losses were in agriculture (-2,500 or -8.7%) and construction (-1,700 or -0.8%). Employment increased for forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas (+3,700 or +7.7%). Compared to March 2016, the goods-producing sector gained 9,800 (+2.1%) jobs.

Employment in the services-producing sector increased by 5,300 (+0.3%) jobs in March. Industries posting gains included information, culture and recreation (+12,000 or +9.3%), wholesale and retail trade (+8,500 or +2.3%), and other services (+2,700 or +2.3%). Accommodation and food services accounted for the largest decline in the sector (-7,500 or -4.1%), followed by educational services (-6,600 or -4.0%) and public administration (-3,800 or -3.6%). The services-produced sector expanded by 72,100 (+3.8%) jobs since March 2016.

Visit the Labour Market Statistics page for detailed data tables and other resources.