Issue 18-102 Labour Force Statistics

June 8, 2018

B.C. Highlights

The unemployment rate in British Columbia was 4.8% in May, down from 5.0% in April and below the 5.6% from 12 months ago. Both the labour force (‑19,200) and the number of employed (‑12,400) contracted since April. Compared to 12 months ago, employment has increased (+3,500) and the labour force declined (‑17,600).

There were 16,000 fewer full-time jobs in May, while 3,600 part-time jobs were added since April. Most of the losses in full-time jobs were observed for the 25 to 54 (‑11,700) and 55 and over (‑5,400) age groups, while those aged 15 to 24 added full-time positions (+1,300). Part-time employment went up for the 55 and over (+5,300) and the 15 to 24 (+2,800) age groups, while there were fewer part-time jobs (‑4,600) for those aged 25 to 54 .

In May, employment in the private sector was up (+3,400), while there were less employees in the public sector (‑1,500). The number of self-employed individuals fell (‑14,300) compared to April.

Provincial Comparisons

At 4.8%, British Columbia’s unemployment rate was the lowest in Canada during the month of May. Quebec had the second lowest unemployment rate (5.3%), followed by Ontario (5.7%) and Alberta (6.2%).

National Highlights

Compared to the previous month, employment in Canada was virtually identical in May, while the unemployment rate was also unchanged at 5.8%. The unemployment rate was down from one year ago, when it was 6.5%.


In May, employment in British Columbia for men (aged 25 years and over) declined by 8,900 jobs, while the labour force shrank by 7,200. As a result, the unemployment rate was 4.7%, up from 4.5% for the previous month.

For women (aged 25 years and over), employment decreased by 7,500 jobs in May. The labour force decreased by 11,900, which resulted in the unemployment rate dropping to 3.9% from 4.3% the previous month.

Compared to May 2017, the unemployment rate for men was down by 0.9 percentage points to 4.7%, and for women it was down 0.2 percentage points to 3.9%. Jobs for men increased by 17,000 (+1.6%) compared to a year ago, and employment for women shrank by 1,100 (‑0.1%).

Youth Aged 15 to 24 Years

The unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 24 years was 7.6% in May, down 1.1 percentage points from the previous month. Total employment increased by 4,100, while 100 individuals left the labour force. There were employment gains for both full-time (+1,300) and part-time (+2,800) positions.

Compared to May 2017, the unemployment rate for youth was down 1.9 percentage points to 7.6%.

Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs)

In May, employment shrank in Vancouver (‑20,200 or ‑1.4%) and Kelowna (‑400 or ‑0.4%). Victoria (+4,900 or +2.5%), Abbotsford (+1,700 or +1.8%), and the areas outside the CMAs (+1,600 or +0.2%) saw increases in employment from the previous month


Employment in the goods-producing sector was down (‑8,000 or ‑1.6%) in May. Most of the losses were felt by the construction (‑5,400 or ‑2.2%) industry, while agriculture (‑800 or ‑3.2%), forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas (‑700 or ‑1.4%), manufacturing (‑700 or ‑0.4%), and utilities (‑400 or ‑2.9%) all saw decreases. In the twelve months to May, the goods-producing sector added 10,400 (+2.1%) jobs.

In May, overall employment was down for the services-producing sector (‑4,300 or ‑0.2%) compared to the previous month. Within industries, professional, scientific and technical services (‑4,400 or ‑2.1%) posted the largest decrease, followed by business, building and other support services (‑3,900 or ‑3.9%), health care and social assistance (‑3,800 or ‑1.2%), and other services (‑3,700 or ‑3.1%). Conversely, accommodation and food services (+8,000 or +4.4%) added positions, while employment for information, culture and recreation (+3,300 or +2.7%) and educational services (+2,000 or +1.2%) increased as well. Since May 2017, the services-producing sector has lost 6,900 (‑0.3%) positions.

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