Issue 18-05: Labour Force Survey

January 5, 2018

B.C. Highlights

The unemployment rate in British Columbia was 4.6% in December, down 0.2 percentage points from November and below the 5.8% it was 12 months ago. Compared to November, the size of the labour force was unchanged (-900), with an increase in employment (+5,600) and a drop in the number of unemployed (-6,500). Over the past twelve months, job growth (+82,800) outpaced the growth in the labour force (+53,400).

Compared to November, there were 6,200 fewer full-time and 11,800 more part-time jobs in December. The loss in full-time jobs was mostly felt by the 15 to 24 age group (-14,200), while the 25 to 54 age group saw a gain (+8,100) in full-time work.

Part-time employment increased for those aged 15 to 24 (+9,500) and 25 to 54 (+4.7), while the 55 and over group had fewer part-time jobs (-2,400).

In December, employment in both the public sector (+4,300) and the private sector (+5,100) was up, while the number of self-employed individuals (-3,800) declined.

Provincial Comparisons

At 4.6%, British Columbia’s unemployment rate was the lowest in Canada for the month of December. Quebec had the second lowest unemployment rate (4.9%), followed by Ontario (5.5%), while Alberta’s unemployment rate (6.9%) was fifth highest among the provinces.

National Highlights

Employment in Canada increased (+78,600 or +0.4%) during the month of December. The unemployment rate decreased from 5.9% to 5.7% during the same time period, and was down from one year ago when it was 6.9%.


In December, employment in British Columbia for men (aged 25 years and over) grew by 7,100 jobs, while the labour force increased by 6,900. As a result, the unemployment rate was 4.3%, down from 4.4% for the previous month.

For women (aged 25 years and over), 3,200 jobs were added in December. The labour force increased by 1,200, resulting in the unemployment rate dropping 0.2 percentage points to 3.9%.

Compared to December 2016, the unemployment rate for men was down by 1.3 percentage points to 4.3%, and for women it was down by 1.1 percentage points to 3.9%. Jobs for men increased by 39,300 (+3.6%) compared to a year ago, and for women employment climbed by 28,100 (+2.8%).

Youth Aged 15 to 24 Years

The unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 24 years fell to 6.9% in December, down 0.9 percentage points from the previous month. Employment decreased by 4,700 jobs, while 9,000 individuals left the labour force. The addition of 9,500 part-time positions could not offset the loss of 14,200 full-time jobs. Compared to December 2016, the unemployment rate for youth declined by 1.8 percentage points to 6.9%.

Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs)

In December, employment grew in Vancouver (+15,500 or +1.1%) and Abbotsford (+2,200 or +2.4%). Areas outside the CMAs (‑8,700 or ‑1.3%), as well as Kelowna (‑2,000 or ‑2.0%) and Victoria (‑1,400 or ‑0.7%), saw decreases in employment from the previous month.


Employment in the goods-producing sector was down (‑4,100 or ‑0.8%) overall in December. Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas added 2,200 (+4.6%) positions. Conversely, there were employment losses in agriculture (‑2,900 or ‑10.7%), manufacturing (‑1,600 or ‑0.9%), and construction (‑1,200 or ‑0.5%). In the twelve months to December, the goods-producing sector added 23,100 (+4.9%) jobs.

In December there were 9,800 (+0.5%) more jobs in the services-producing sector over the previous month. Health care and social assistance (+6,200 or +2.0%) posted the largest increase, followed by professional, scientific, and technical services (+3,400 or +1.7%), finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (+2,500 or +1.6%), public administration (+2,300 or +2.4%), and accommodation and food services (+2,200 or +1.2%). Employment shrank in information, culture, and recreation (‑3,000 or ‑2.2%), wholesale and retail trade (‑2,600 or ‑0.7%), and other services (‑2,600 or ‑2.2%). Since December 2016, the services-producing sector has added 59,800 (+3.1%) positions.

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