Issue 18-64 Labour Force Survey

April 6, 2018

B.C. Highlights

The unemployment rate in British Columbia was 4.7% in March, unchanged from February and below the 5.3% it was 12 months ago. The size of both the labour force (-2,100) and the number of employed (-3,900) were down slightly from February. Compared to 12 months ago, job growth (+32,700) has outpaced the growth in the labour force (+17,500).

There were 23,800 more full-time jobs in March and 27,700 fewer part-time jobs compared to February. Most of the gains in full-time jobs were observed by the 25 to 54 (+12,000) and 15 to 24 (+9,700) age groups, while those aged 55 and over saw a smaller increase (+2,100). Part-time employment went down for the 15 to 24 (-17,300) and 25 to 54 (-14,700) age groups, while those aged 55 and over had more part-time jobs (+4,300).

In March, employment in the public sector was up (+7,000), while there were fewer employees in the private sector (-6,200) and the number of self-employed individuals was also down (-4,800) compared to February.

Provincial Comparisons

At 4.7%, British Columbia’s unemployment rate was the lowest in Canada during the month of March. Ontario had the second lowest unemployment rate (5.5%), followed by Quebec (5.6%), while Alberta’s unemployment rate (6.3%) was fifth highest among the provinces.

National Highlights

Employment in Canada increased by 32,300 in March, while the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.8%. The unemployment rate was down from one year ago, when it was 6.6%.


In March, employment in British Columbia for men (aged 25 years and over) added 1,900 jobs, while the labour force grew by 4,200. As a result, the unemployment rate was 4.3%, up from 4.2% for the previous month.

For women (aged 25 years and over), employment increased by 1,900 jobs in March. The labour force increased by 4,600, which resulted in the unemployment rate rising 0.2 percentage points to 4.3%.

Compared to March 2017, the unemployment rate for men was down by 0.6 percentage points to 4.3%, and for women it was unchanged at 4.3%. Jobs for men increased by 24,900 (+2.3%) compared to a year ago, and employment for women grew by 15,400 (+1.5%).

Youth Aged 15 to 24 Years

The unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 24 years was 7.3% in March, down 0.6 percentage points from the previous month. Total employment decreased by 7,600, while 10,800 individuals left the labour force. The addition of 9,700 full-time positions could not offset the loss of 17,300 part-time jobs.

Compared to March 2017, the unemployment rate for youth was down 2.3 percentage points from 9.6%.

Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs)

In March, employment shrank in Vancouver (‑8,700 or ‑0.6%), Abbotsford (‑1,200 or ‑1.2%) and the areas outside the CMAs (‑700 or ‑0.1%). Victoria (+5,900 or +3.1%) and Kelowna (+800 or +0.8%) saw increases in employment from the previous month.


Employment in the goods-producing sector was down (‑4,000 or ‑0.8%) in March. Agriculture (‑4,500 or ‑16.6%) saw the largest decrease in employment, followed by manufacturing (‑1,200 or ‑0.7%) and forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas (‑100 or ‑0.2%). On the other hand, construction (+1,100 or +0.5%) and utilities (+700 or +5.4%) added positions. In the twelve months to March, the goods-producing sector added 20,300 (+4.2%) jobs.

In March, overall employment was stable in the services-producing sector (+100 or +0.0%) compared to the previous month. Within industries, educational services (+6,400 or +4.0%) posted the largest increase, followed by health care and social assistance (+5,000 or +1.6%) and business, building and other support services (+3,200 or 3.2%). Conversely, wholesale and retail trade (‑9,200 or ‑2.4%) saw a decrease in positions, while employment for information, culture and recreation (‑7,700 or ‑5.9%) and other services (‑2,300 or ‑1.9%) contracted as well. Since March 2017, the services-producing sector has added 12,400 (+0.6%) positions.

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