Issue 18-30: Labour Force Survey

February 9, 2018

B.C. Highlights

The unemployment rate in British Columbia was 4.8% in January, up 0.2 percentage points from December but below the 5.5% it was 12 months ago. Compared to December, the size of the labour force was down slightly (‑1,100), while there was a larger decrease in employment (-5,100) and a rise in the number of unemployed (+3,900). Over the past twelve months, job growth (+59,500) outpaced the growth in the labour force (+42,000).

Compared to December, there were 4,100 more full-time and 9,200 fewer part-time jobs in January. The gain in full-time jobs was felt by the 15 to 24 (+7,800) and 55 and over (+13,700) age groups, while those aged 25 to 54 saw a decline (-17,400) in full-time jobs. Part-time employment went down for those aged 15 to 24 (-7,800) and age 55 and over (-1,600), and remained unchanged for the 25 to 54 age group (+300).

In January, employment in the private sector was up (+6,700), while there were fewer employees in the public sector (-6,300) and the number of self-employed individuals was also down (-5,500).

Provincial Comparisons

At 4.8%, British Columbia’s unemployment rate was the lowest in Canada during the month of January. Quebec had the second lowest unemployment rate (5.4%), followed by Ontario (5.5%), while Alberta’s unemployment rate (7.0%) was fifth highest among the provinces.

National Highlights

Following two months of increases, employment in Canada fell (-88,000 or -0.5%) during the month of January. The unemployment rate increased from 5.8% to 5.9% during the same time period, but was down from one year ago when it was 6.7%.


In January, employment in British Columbia for men (aged 25 years and over) was relatively stable with 300 fewer jobs, while the labour force increased by 800. As a result, the unemployment rate was 4.5%, up from 4.4% for the previous month.

For women (aged 25 years and over), employment declined by 5,000 jobs in January. The labour force decreased by 2,200, resulting in the unemployment rate increasing 0.3 percentage points to 4.2%.

Compared to January 2017, the unemployment rate for men was down by 0.3 percentage points to 4.5%, and for women it was down by 0.5 percentage points to 4.2%. Jobs for men increased by 31,700 (+2.9%) compared to a year ago, and for women employment grew by 19,300 (+1.9%).

Youth Aged 15 to 24 Years

The unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 24 years was 7.0% in January, unchanged from the previous month. Total employment was the same, while 300 individuals joined the labour force. The addition of 7,800 full-time positions offset the loss of 7,800 part-time jobs. Compared to January 2017, the unemployment rate for youth declined by 2.8 percentage points to 7.0%.

Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs)

In January, employment grew in Vancouver (+10,300 or +0.7%), Victoria (+1,300 or +0.7%), and Abbotsford (+300 or +0.3%). Areas outside the CMAs (‑14,800 or ‑2.2%) and Kelowna (‑1,300 or ‑1.3%) saw decreases in employment from the previous month.


Employment in the goods-producing sector was up (+13,900 or +2.8%) overall in January. Construction (+7,800 or +3.3%), manufacturing (+3,900 or +2.2%), agriculture (+3,600 or +15.1%), and utilities (+1,100 or +8.5%) all added positions. On the other hand, forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas saw employment contract by 2,500 (‑5.0%) positions in January. In the twelve months to January, the goods-producing sector added 32,600 (+6.8%) jobs.

In January there were 19,000 (‑1.0%) fewer jobs in the services-producing sector over the previous month. Professional, scientific, and technical services (‑6,300 or ‑3.1%) and finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (‑6,200 or ‑3.9%) posted the largest decreases, followed by educational services (‑4,400 or ‑2.6%), accommodation and food services (‑4,300 or ‑2.4%), and transportation and warehousing (‑3,700 or ‑2.7%). The only service industries that grew were wholesale and retail trade (+12,200 or 3.2%) and other services (+300 or +0.3%). Since January 2017, the services-producing sector has added 26,900 (+1.4%) positions.

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