Unemployment Rate Doubles In 2020 In BC Due To Pandemic


...is the exact number of jobs lost in British Columbia in one year from December 2019 to December 2020 due to the pandemic. The worst period was between December 2019 and April 2020 where the Province lost 406,300 jobs in only five months .

British Columbia's labour market is slowly recovering, but...

It can be seen with the data provided by the below table that BC's labour market was really impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, we observe a dramatic decrease in jobs in BC between February and May 2020, which can be directly related with the restriction measures taken in spring by the government, with all the economy slowing down all of a sudden.

April 2020 is the month when is registered the strongest decline in the number of jobs in British Columbia:

Months Total number of jobs in British ColumbiaMonthly change rate
Dec. 2019
Jan. 2020
2,505,800- 1.14%
Feb. 2020
2,510,900+ 0.2%
Mar. 2020
Apr. 2020
2,128,300- 10.44%
May 2020
2,197,200+ 3.24%
Jun. 2020
2,340,700+ 6.53%
Jul. 2020
2,404,200+ 2.71%
Aug. 2020
2,407,500+ 0.14%
Sep. 2020
2,453,000+ 1.89%
Oct. 2020
2,487,700+ 1.41%
Nov. 2020
2,497,200+ 0.38%
Dec. 2020
2,495,500- 0.07%
Number of jobs change in thousands and employment rate change in British Columbia over 2020 (Source: Statistics Canada)

We can see that the trend is starting to become positive from May 2020, with a clear growth between April and May 2020 (+3.24%). Starting in May, the employment growth rate in British Columbia continues to rise and remains stable in November and December 2020 (respectively +0.38% and -0.07%).

However, as of December 2020, more than 39,100 jobs are still missing in British Columbia in comparison with one year ago.

Unemployment: where does British Columbia stand in comparison with the rest of Canada?

As we can see on the graph below, British Columbia is the most impacted province by the pandemic in Canada, when considering unemployment levels. Indeed:

Unemployment rate from the last trimester of 2019 to the third trimester of 2020 across Canada's provinces (Source: Statistics Canada)

The Atlantic provinces continue to have the highest unemployment rate, with 10.8% at the end of 2020 - 2.2 points higher than a year earlier.

The job market in British Columbia city per city

In the below table, we observe that Vancouver and Abbotsford-Mission are by far, the cities where the unemployment rate is the highest in British Columbia (8.1%) as of November 2020. This represents approximately 122,600 people unemployed for Vancouver and 8,600 for Abbotsford-Mission. On the contrary, Kelowna is the city in British Columbia where the unemployment rate is the lowest in November 2020 (4.7%).

Cities of British ColumbiaUnemployment rate in November 2020 Number of unemployed people in November 2020
Table showing unemployment indicators in November 2020 in different cities of British Columbia (Source: Statistics Canada)


Antoine Fruchard, insurance expert and CEO at Hellosafe.ca

All the Canadian provinces are facing difficulties regarding their job market due to the actual pandemic situation. However, even if the jobs were particularly affected, Canada and British Columbia are starting to rise again. Indeed, the employment rate is growing since May and it's a really good indicator for the Canadian economy. However, there's still a long way to go before we get back to the indicators of the beginning of the year 2020, since new lockdowns and restrictions measures have been taken again in December in a significant number of cities in BC. We can surely hope that 2021 will be a better year regarding the job market."

Our methodology

This study has been built upon data released by Statistics Canada. All of the data set out in this study was collected by the Canadian government. We tried, throughout our study, to highlight the principal trends in Canada and British Columbia regarding the employment and unemployment main facts and figures. All data must be interpreted in the context of the actual pandemic and explains the discrepancy that may exist regarding previous years' data.

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