First Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Report Released by Surrey Board of Trade

The Surrey Board of Trade Rapid Response Business Centre, as a result of recent BC Government funding, has released the first-of-its-kind series of Surrey labour market intelligence reports on COVID-related impacts. In addition, a Surrey business leadership perspective on the monthly Canadian Labour Force Survey (LFS) statistics is provided.

“This report is the only one that provides the best available quantitative, qualitative and anecdotal information on implications for Surrey employers, workers and service providers,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.

“This is important monthly information for businesses and our workforce to have to inform decision-making and planning on recovery and resilience. The Surrey Board of Trade is the only city-building business organization that offers this value to Surrey’s business community.”


·       There has been a loss of over 37,000 jobs in Surrey between February 2020 and July 2020; youth, immigrants, people of colour and women have been more adversely affected by these job losses, raising significant concerns for Surrey’s diverse population.

·       Aside from some limited gains for the job market in Agriculture & Natural Resources, Utilities and Professional, Scientific & Technical Services industries (for a total gain of 3,534 jobs), all other major industries have diminished in size to varying degrees.

·       The hardest hit industries are Arts, Culture & Recreation, Personal Services, Accommodation & Food Services, Transportation & Warehousing and Retail. 60% of BC small businesses were fully open in August with Construction (89%) and Hospitality (36%) having the highest and lowest proportion of businesses fully open, respectively, in August 2020.

·       Job losses are concentrated in the service sector, many of which are not expected to return.

·       15% of businesses in BC do not expect to ever reach pre-COVID levels of staffing, while 30% are not expecting to reach normal levels until at least 2021. Agriculture (57%), Finance (56%), Construction (53%), Wholesale (52%) and Professional Services (51%) had the highest proportion of their full staffing capacity working in August 2020.

·       Only 29% of small businesses were making or exceeding their normal revenue levels for this period in August 2020.

·       As businesses and industry in Surrey shifts as a result of COVID-19, reskilling and upskilling for new products/services and positions will be required.

·       The greatest obstacles related to re-opening businesses were voiced as the complexity of health & safety requirements, the difficulty of implementing re-opening requirements and the costs associated of implementation.

·       Just below half of the businesses surveyed were not confident that the current government support would help them succeed through the COVID-19 period, while only 12% showed at least some confidence in government measures.

·       When asked what type of government support would be most helpful for recovery, most cited solutions which included more wage support, greater tax relief, more / better rent relief and more / better cash flow relief.

·       Canadians over the age of 15, in all demographics, reported significant negative impacts on mental health.



·     Economic activity in Canada and BC continues to produce increases in employment and slightly reduced unemployment rates since April and continues in August, although slightly less than in growth in July.

·     In terms of job losses, BC’s economy is still in a job-deficit from impacts of the pandemic (almost 150,000 jobs lost and not yet recovered) and the recovery is variable across industries and occupations:

–        Goods-producing industries – while smaller in employment than services – are now leading recovery (agriculture, manufacturing, natural resources and utilities, with construction lagging)

–        While accommodation and food services, health and other services continue to recover employment, retail and wholesale trade and professional, scientific and technical services each shed over 10,000 jobs in August after 3 successive month of job recovery.

–        Based on industry patterns, recovery is proving relatively challenging in ACRS, ESLCG, sales and service and TTEO occupations.

·     BC continues to be well-positioned fiscally and economically to move through the pandemic. Continued employment recovery will depend on planning for a new normal, safe work and consumer practices and mitigation of coronavirus outbreaks including new measures in light of school openings and the cold and flu season (e.g. testing, tracking/tracing, quarantining, treatments, etc.). Employers and employees will have an important role in this.

The August 2020 LFS data provides continued positive momentum for BC’s jobs recovery. Longer term recovery will require effective public policies and support, smart business practices, economic and business resilience and a shared blueprint for economic recovery among governments, businesses, workers and public sector service providers.


“The Surrey Board of Trade’s high-level perspective is that BC is well positioned fiscally and economically to move through the pandemic,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “Certainly, we have seen significant business closures and unemployment due to the pandemic, and this will continue in a very uncertain economic future. We still have a long way to go as we build a strong economic recovery.”


Kerry Jothen, B.A., M.A.


Anita Huberman
CEO, Surrey Board of Trade