Issue 19-22 Labour Force Statistics

February 8, 2019

B.C. Highlights

The unemployment rate in British Columbia was 4.7% in January, up 0.3 percentage points from December and down 0.1 percentage points from 12 months ago. The labour force (+16,000) and the number of jobs (+8,700) increased from December. They also grew over the previous 12 months, with employment up by 61,900 and an additional 61,700 labour force participants.

In January, 22,600 part-time jobs were added while full-time jobs declined by 13,900. By age group, there were more full-time jobs for those aged 55 years and over (+5,700), and fewer jobs for those aged 25 to 54 (‑14,400) and 15 to 24 (‑5,300). There were gains in part-time jobs for those aged 15 to 24 (+13,000), 25 to 54 (+8,100), and 55 years and over (+1,400).

In January, employment increased in the private sector (+16,200) and the public sector (+4,600). The number of self-employed individuals declined (‑12,100) compared to December.

Provincial Comparisons

At 4.7%, 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 Manitoba (5.5%), Saskatchewan (5.5%) and Ontario (5.7%). Alberta (6.8%) had the sixth lowest unemployment rate.

National Highlights

In Canada, employment increased by 66,800 from the previous month, while the unemployment rate rose to 5.8%. The unemployment rate was down from one year ago, when it was 5.9%.


In January, employment in British Columbia for men (aged 25 years and over) grew by 1,300, while the size of the labour force increased as well (+11,700). As a result, the male unemployment rate was 3.9%, up from 3.0% in December.

For women (aged 25 years and over), there were 400 fewer jobs in January while the labour force shrank by 2,900. As a result, the unemployment rate for women dropped to 4.0% from 4.2% the previous month.

Compared to January 2018, the unemployment rate for men was down by 0.7 percentage points to 3.9%, and for women it decreased 0.2 percentage points to 4.0%. Jobs for men increased by 35,000 (+3.1%) compared to a year ago, and employment for women increased by 31,500 (+3.1%).

Youth Aged 15 to 24 Years

The unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 24 years was 9.1% in January, down from 9.4% the previous month. Total employment increased by 7,700, while 7,300 individuals joined the labour force. There were part-time (+13,000) employment gains, while full-time (‑5,300) positions decreased.

Compared to January 2018, the unemployment rate for youth was up 2.0 percentage points to 9.1%.

Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs)

In January, employment increased in Vancouver (+10,300 or +0.7%) and Abbotsford (+2,900 or +3.0%) from the previous month. Kelowna (‑3,600 or ‑3.5%), the areas outside the CMAs (‑800 or ‑0.1%), and Victoria (‑100 or ‑0.1%) all reported decreases in employment from December.


Employment in the goods-producing sector was down (‑18,000 or ‑3.5%) in January. Most of the losses were in construction (‑11,200 or ‑4.5%), with employment decreases in forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas (‑4,800 or ‑9.3%) and manufacturing (‑3,500 or ‑2.0%), as well. There were more jobs in the agriculture (+1,100 or +4.4%) and utilities (+500 or +4.1%) industries. In the twelve months to January, the goods-producing sector lost 20,300 (‑4.0%) jobs.

In January, overall employment for the services-producing sector (+26,700 or +1.3%) increased from the previous month. Among the service industries, wholesale and retail trade (+6,900 or +1.9%) posted the largest increase, followed by transportation and warehousing (+6,400 or +4.6%), information, culture and recreation (+5,600 or +4.4%), accommodation and food services (+5,600 or +2.9%), and business, building and other support services (+5,400 or +4.9%). On the other hand, employment declined in health care and social assistance (‑5,700 or ‑1.8%), other services, except public administration (‑4,200 or ‑3.5%), and finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (‑1,100 or ‑0.7%) in January. Since January 2018, the services-producing sector has added 82,200 (+4.2%) positions.

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