Issue 18-49: Labour Force Survey

March 9, 2018

B.C. Highlights

The unemployment rate in British Columbia was 4.7% in February, down 0.1 percentage points from January and below the 5.1% it was 12 months ago. Compared to January, the size of the labour force was down (‑6,200), while there was a smaller decrease in the number of people employed (-3,400). Over the past twelve months, job growth (+40,200) outpaced the growth in the labour force (+30,000).

Compared to January, there were 28,500 fewer full-time jobs in February, and 25,200 more part-time jobs. The loss in full-time jobs was felt by the 15 to 24 (‑17,100) and 25 to 54 (-11,300) age groups, while those aged 55 and over saw no change (-100). Part-time employment went up for the 15 to 24 (+11,200) and 25 to 54 (+20,000) age groups, while those aged 55 and over had fewer part-time jobs (‑6,100).

In February, employment in the private sector was up (+3,500), while there were fewer employees in the public sector (-3,400) and the number of self-employed individuals was also down (-3,400) compared to January.

Provincial Comparisons

At 4.7%, British Columbia’s unemployment rate was the lowest in Canada during the month of February. Ontario had the second lowest unemployment rate (5.5%), followed by Quebec (5.6%) and Saskatchewan (5.6%), while Alberta’s unemployment rate (6.7%) was sixth highest among the provinces.

National Highlights

Employment was little changed in Canada in February (+15,400), and the unemployment rate was down 0.1 percentage points to 5.8%.  The unemployment rate was also down from one year ago, when it was 6.6%.


In February, employment in British Columbia for men (aged 25 years and over) added 900 jobs, while the labour force decreased by 3,500. As a result, the unemployment rate was 4.2%, down from 4.5% for the previous month.

For women (aged 25 years and over), employment increased by 1,700 jobs in February. The labour force remained relatively stable, increasing by 200, which resulted in the unemployment rate decreasing 0.1 percentage points to 4.1%.

Compared to January 2017, the unemployment rate for men was down by 0.4 percentage points to 4.2%, and for women it was down by 0.2 percentage points to 4.1%. Jobs for men increased by 25,300 (+2.3%) compared to a year ago, and employment for women grew by 10,900 (+1.1%).

Youth Aged 15 to 24 Years

The unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 24 years was 7.9% in February, up 0.9 percentage points from the previous month. Total employment decreased by 6,000, while 3,000 individuals left the labour force. The addition of 11,200 part-time positions could not offset the loss of 17,100 full-time jobs. Compared to February 2017, the unemployment rate for youth was down 0.8 percentage points from 8.7%.

Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs)

In February, employment shrank in Vancouver (‑10,400 or ‑0.7%) and Victoria (‑1,600 or ‑0.8%). Kelowna (+3,500 or +3.5%), Abbotsford (+2,200 or +2.3%) and the areas outside the CMAs (+2,900 or +0.4%) saw increases in employment from the previous month.


Employment in the goods-producing sector was down (‑5,300 or ‑1.0%) in February. Construction (‑4,400 or ‑1.8%), manufacturing (‑1,700 or ‑1.0%), and utilities (‑1,100 or ‑7.8%) all lost positions. On the other hand, forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas saw employment increase by 2,400 (+5.0%) positions. In the twelve months to February, the goods-producing sector added 23,200 (+4.8%) jobs.

In February there were 1,900 (+0.1%) more jobs in the services-producing sector over the previous month. Other services (+7,200 or +6.3%) posted the largest increase, followed by health care and social assistance (+3,300 or +1.0%), business, building and other support services (+3,100 or 3.2%), and professional, scientific, and technical services (+2,400 or +1.2%). Conversely, wholesale and retail trade (‑9,500 or ‑2.4%) saw a decrease in positions, while employment for transportation and warehousing (‑1,700 or ‑1.3%) and educational services (‑1,400 or ‑0.9%) contracted as well. Since February 2017, the services-producing sector has added 17,000 (+0.9%) positions.

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