Issue 17-122 Labour Force Survey

October 6, 2017

B.C. Highlights

The unemployment rate in British Columbia was 4.9% in September, down from 5.1% in August and below the 5.6% it was 12 months ago. Compared to August, the labour force declined (-12,400), with decreases in employment (-6,700) and the number of unemployed (-5,800). Over the past twelve months, job growth (+85,100) outpaced the growth in the labour force (+69,100).

Compared to August, there were 5,000 more full-time jobs, and 11,600 fewer part-time jobs in September. Part-time employment fell mainly for workers aged 25 to 54 years (‑15,700 or ‑6.6%), with decreases for those aged 55 years and over (‑700 or ‑0.5%) as well. Full-time jobs increased for those aged 25 to 54 years of age (+17,500 or +1.3%) and dropped for those aged 55 years and over (-11,500 or -2.9%).

In September, the public sector (+7,600) added positions, while the private sector (‑9,700) and the number of self-employed individuals (‑4,500) shrunk.

Provincial Comparisons

At 4.9%, British Columbia’s unemployment rate was the lowest in Canada during the month of September. Manitoba had the second lowest unemployment rate (5.5%), followed by Ontario (5.6%), while Alberta’s unemployment rate (7.9%) remained the fourth highest among the provinces.

National Highlights

During the month of September, employment in Canada was little changed (+10,000 or +0.1%), while the unemployment rate remained at 6.2%, matching the most recent low of October 2008, the month prior to the 2008-2009 downturn.

In September, employment in British Columbia for men (aged 25 years and over) dropped by 7,000 jobs, while the labour force decreased by 1,200. As a result, the unemployment rate was 4.6%, up 0.5 percentage points from the previous month.

For women (aged 25 years and over), employment shrank by 3,400 jobs. The labour force contracted by 4,100, resulting in the unemployment rate holding steady at 4.4%.

Compared to September 2016, the unemployment rate for men was down by 1.0 percentage points to 4.6%, and for women it was down by 0.3 percentage points to 4.4%. Jobs for men increased by 35,800 (+3.3%) compared to a year ago, and for women employment climbed by 29,500 (+3.0%).

Youths Aged 15 to 24 Years

The unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 24 years fell to 7.1% in September, down 2.7 percentage points from the previous month. Employment increased by 3,800 jobs and the labour force thinned by 7,100 people. All job gains for youth were in part-time employment (+5,000 jobs), with full-time employment (-1,200) reducing positions. Compared to September 2016, the unemployment rate for youth declined by 1.0 percentage points to 7.1%.

Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs)

In September, employment rose in Vancouver (+3,400 or +0.2%), and declined for areas outside the CMAs (‑7,500 or -1.1%), Kelowna (-1,200 or -1.2%), and Abbotsford (-1,000 or -1.1%).


In September, employment in the goods-producing sector was down (-9,000 or -1.8%) overall. There were employment losses in construction (-5,800 or -2.5%) and agriculture (-3,400 or -12.4%), while the other industries were relatively stable. Compared to September 2016, the goods-producing sector gained 25,400 (+5.5%) jobs.

Employment in the services-producing sector grew by  2,400 (+0.1%) jobs in September. After accounting for the largest decline in the sector in August, accommodation and food services employment posted the largest gain (+3,700 or +2.1%). Other industries with employment gains included health care and social assistance (+3,600 or +1.2%), finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (+3,300 or +2.1%), and educational services (+2,500 or +1.5%). Professional, scientific and technical services employment declined (-4,900 or -2.4%), followed by information, culture and recreation (-3,400 or -2.5%), other services (-2,300 or -2.0%), and business, building and other support services (-2,200 or -2.2%). The services-producing sector expanded by 59,800 (+3.1%) jobs since September 2016.

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