Issue 16-114: Labour Force Statistics

June 10, 2016

The unemployment rate in British Columbia was 6.1% in May, up from 5.8% in April, as employment decreased by 8,400, while the labour force contracted by 1,100. Compared to May 2015, the unemployment rate remained at 6.1%, with job creation (+69,500) slightly lagging growth in the labour force (+74,700).

On a monthly basis, the number of full-time jobs remained virtually the same (+700) in May. However, there was a decrease in part-time (-9,100) jobs. Among workers aged 25 to 54, full-time employment decreased by 12,600, while part-time jobs increased slightly by 900. With respect to workers aged 55 and above, there was a rise in full-time employment (+8,700) accompanied by a fall in part-time employment (-4,200).

In May, employment growth was concentrated in the public sector (+6,200) with a decrease in the private sector (-8,200). The number of self-employed people also decreased (-6,400).

B.C. and West

At 6.1%, British Columbia’s unemployment rate was the third lowest in Canada during the month of May. Manitoba (5.9%) and Saskatchewan (6.0%) were the only two provinces that recorded lower unemployment rates. Despite employment growth in May, Ontario and Quebec continue to experience higher rates of unemployment (6.6% and 7.1%, respectively). In addition, labour market conditions further deteriorated in Alberta, as the unemployment rate climbed up to 7.8%. The 0.6 percentage point jump during the month of May may in part be attributable to the large wildfires that have severely impacted communities and businesses in Northern Alberta.

National Highlights

Employment in Canada increased (+13,800) in May and the unemployment rate dropped to 6.9%.


In May, employment in British Columbia for men (aged 25 years and over) decreased by 5,300 jobs. The labour force shrank (-9,400) during the same time period, causing the unemployment rate to decrease by 0.3 percentage points to 5.5%.

For women (aged 25 years and over), employment dropped by 1,900 jobs while the labour force increased in size (+8,800), pushing the unemployment rate up by a whole percentage point to 5.2%.

Compared to May 2015, the unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 5.5% for men, while there was an increase of 0.7 percentage points to 5.2% for women. Compared to a year ago, jobs for men strengthened by 29,800 (+2.9%) and for women employment climbed by 31,500 (+3.4%).

Youths Aged 15 to 24 Years

The unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 24 years was up by 0.2 percentage points to 10.7% in May. Employment was mostly stable (-1,100) as was the labour force (-500). Full-time jobs (+4,600 or +2.8%) mostly compensated for a decline in part-time jobs (-5,700 or ‑3.6%). Compared to May 2015, the unemployment rate for youth decreased by 1.3 percentage points to 10.7%. 

Summer Employment for Students

From May to August, the Labour Force Survey collects labour market outcomes about youths aged 15 to 24 who were attending school full-time in March and who intend to return to school full-time in September.

The May results provide a glimpse into the summer labour conditions—especially for older students (aged 20 to 24) attending post-secondary institutions. The data are unadjusted, making comparisons from one year to another appropriate.

The unemployment rate (unadjusted) for B.C. students aged 20 to 24 returning to school in the fall was 12.8%, down 0.1 percentage points from May 2015. The rate of employment (unadjusted) among older students was 50.2%, down from 53.4% in May 2015.

Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs)

In May, employment rose in Vancouver (+5,500 or +0.4%), and Victoria (+3,500 or +2.0%). Employment declined for areas outside the CMAs (-13,400 or -2.0%), Kelowna (-3,300 or -3.6%) and Abbotsford (-700 or ‑0.8%).


In May, employment in the goods-producing sector was down (-8,400 or -1.8%) overall. Employment contracted in manufacturing (-9,200 or -5.3%), construction (-2,700 or -1.2%) and utilities (-900 or ‑6.3%). There were increases in employment for the forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas (+2,600 or +5.2%) and agriculture (+1,800 or +8.1%) industries. Compared to May 2015, the goods-producing sector gained 13,800 (+3.0%) jobs.

Employment in the services-producing sector was unchanged from April overall. There were fewer jobs in wholesale and retail trade (-9,900 or -2.6%), health care and social assistance (-3,200 or -1.1%) and accommodation and food services (-2,600 or -1.5%), with counterbalancing gains spread out across the remaining industries. The largest advances were in public administration (+5,600 or +5.6%) and other services (+3,800 or +3.8%). The services-producing sector expanded by 55,700 (+3.0%) jobs since May 2015.

Source: Statistics Canada