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.


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%).


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.