Issue 17-51: Labour Force Statistics

March 10, 2017

B.C. Highlights

The unemployment rate in British Columbia was 5.1% in February, down from 5.6% in January. The gain in employment relative to the previous month (+19,400) was much greater than the increase in the size of the labour force (+6,600). The unemployment rate was also lower when compared to February 2016, when it was 6.5%. Job growth (+84,900) was greater than the growth in the labour force (+50,400) over the course of the past twelve months.

Compared to January, there were 33,400 more full-time jobs, while part-time jobs fell by 13,900.

In February, employment in both the public sector (+13,800) and the private sector (+6,400) increased relative to the month before, while the number of self-employed individuals dropped slightly (-800) during the same time period.

Provincial comparisons

 At 5.1%, British Columbia’s unemployment rate remained the lowest in Canada during the month of February. Manitoba (5.8%) and Saskatchewan (6.0%) recorded the second and third lowest unemployment rates. At 8.3%, Alberta’s unemployment rate was seventh lowest among the provinces.

National Highlights

 During the month of February, employment in Canada was almost unchanged (+15,300 or +0.1%), while the labour force shrank (-23,000 or -0.1%). As a result, the national unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percentage points to 6.6%.


In February, employment in British Columbia for men (aged 25 years and over) grew by 11,300 jobs, while the labour force increased by 9,000. As a result, the unemployment rate was 4.6%, down 0.2 percentage points from the previous month.

For women (aged 25 years and over), employment increased by 11,300 jobs. The labour force grew at a slower pace (+6,100), pushing the unemployment rate down by 0.5 percentage points to 4.3%.

Compared to February 2016, the unemployment rate for men was down by 1.5 percentage points to 4.6%, and for women it was down by 0.6 percentage points to 4.3%. Jobs for men increased by 26,700 (+2.5%) compared to a year ago, and for women employment climbed by 46,900 (+4.9%).

Youths Aged 15 to 24 Years

The unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 24 years fell by 1.2 percentage points to 8.7% in February. Employment decreased by 3,300 jobs while the labour force diminished by 8,500 people. Compared to February 2016, the unemployment rate for youth decreased by 3.5 percentage points to 8.7%.

Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs)

 In February, employment rose in Vancouver (+13,400 or +1.0%), areas outside the CMAs (+5,200 or +0.8%), Victoria (+4,200 or +2.2%).Employment was unchanged in Abbotsford-Mission (-200 or -0.2%) and down in Kelowna (-3,600 or -3.7%).


In February, employment in the goods-producing sector was relatively unchanged (+4,700 or +1.0%) overall. The majority of the employment gains were in construction (+6,000 or +2.8%), followed by agriculture (+1,200 or +4.4%). There were slight employment declines for manufacturing (-1,300 or -0.8%) and forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas (-1,200 or -2.4%). Compared to February 2016, the goods-producing sector gained 11,100 (+2.4%) jobs. Employment in the services-producing sector increased by 14,700 (+0.8%) jobs in February. Industries posting gains included business, building and other support services (+6,600 or +6.4%), health care and social assistance (+5,400 or +1.9%), public administration (+4,800 or +4.7%), and educational services (+3,200 or +2.0%). Wholesale and retail trade accounted for the largest decline in the sector (-9,600 or -2.6%), followed by professional, scientific and technical services (-2,300 or -1.2%), and accommodation and food services (-1,400 or -0.8%). The services-producing sector expanded by 73,900 (+3.9%) jobs since February 2016.