Issue 20-19: Labour Force Survey

February 7, 2020

B.C. Highlights

The unemployment rate in British Columbia was 4.5% in January, down 0.3 percentage points from December and down 0.2 percentage points from 12 months ago. Overall in January, the labour force contracted (‑5,700), while the number of jobs grew (+3,400). Both areas saw decreases over the previous 12 months, with employment down by 1,500 and 8,000 individuals leaving the labour force.

In January, there were 6,100 fewer full-time jobs and 9,500 more part-time jobs. By age group, there were full-time employment gains for those aged 55 and over (+7,600) and 25 to 54 (+2,800), which were offset by job losses for those aged 15 to 24 (‑16,400). There were increases in part-time jobs for those aged 15 to 24 (+11,900) and 55 and over (+1,300), with fewer jobs for those aged 25 to 54 (‑3,700).

Both the private (+4,800) and public (+6,800) sectors added positions in January. The number of self-employed individuals decreased (‑8,200) compared to December.

Provincial Comparisons

At 4.5%, British Columbia’s unemployment rate was the lowest in Canada for the month of January. The next lowest unemployment rates were in Quebec (5.1%), Manitoba (5.1%), and Ontario (5.2%). Alberta (7.3%) had the sixth lowest rate.

National Highlights

In Canada, employment increased with 34,500 more positions in January. The unemployment rate was 5.5% in January, down from 5.6% in December and 5.8% twelve months ago.


In January, employment in British Columbia for men (aged 25 years and over) increased by 9,600, while the size of the labour force grew (+3,300). Accordingly, the unemployment rate for men was down from 4.1% in December to 3.6%.

For women (aged 25 years and over), there were 1,800 fewer jobs in January, while the labour force contracted by 3,500 individuals. As a result, the unemployment rate for women was 4.1%, a decrease from 4.2% in December.

Compared to January 2019, the unemployment rate for men was down 0.2 percentage points to 3.6%, while the rate for women increased 0.1 percentage points to 4.1%. Jobs for men increased by 21,500 (+1.9%) from twelve months ago, while employment for women decreased by 8,500 (‑0.8%).

Youth Aged 15 to 24 Years

The unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 24 years was 8.6% in January, down from 8.7% the previous month. Total employment decreased by 4,500, while 5,500 individuals left the labour force. There was an increase in part-time positions (+11,900) and fewer full-time positions (‑16,400).

Compared to January 2019, the unemployment rate for youth was down 0.7 percentage points to 8.6%.

Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs)

In January, Vancouver (+6,300 or +0.4%) and the areas outside the CMAs (+2,500 or +0.4%) saw increases in employment from December. Abbotsford-Mission (‑4,400 or ‑4.3%), Victoria (‑900 or ‑0.4%), and Kelowna (‑100 or ‑0.1%) saw employment decline from the previous month.


Employment in the goods-producing sector was up (+2,200 or +0.5%) in January. The majority of the job gains were in manufacturing (+4,800 or +3.0%), with utilities (+400 or +3.4%) and agriculture (+300 or +1.1%) also adding positions. Conversely, there were fewer jobs in construction (‑2,400 or ‑1.0%) and forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas (‑900 or ‑2.2%). In the twelve months to January, employment in the goods-producing sector declined by 8,300 (‑1.7%).

In January, overall employment for the services-producing sector increased (+1,200 or +0.1%) from the previous month. Among the service industries, wholesale and retail trade (+5,200 or +1.3%) posted the largest increase, followed by other services, except public administration (+3,100 or +2.7%), transportation and warehousing (+2.8% or +2.0%), and finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (+1,700 or +1.0%). On the other hand, employment decreased for public administration (‑3,600 or ‑3.0%), accommodation and food services (‑2,000 or ‑1.0%), and educational services (‑1,800 or ‑1.0%) in January. On a year over year basis, the services-producing sector has added 6,800 (+0.3%) positions.

Did You Know?

Seasonally adjusted estimates from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) were revised using the latest seasonal factors, going back three years (January 2017 onwards). The revised estimates were made available on Statistics Canada's Data Tables, on Monday, January 27, 2020.

BC Stats incorporated the revised data into our February 2020 release of the B.C. Labour Force Statistics Highlights and data tables.

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