The Surrey Board of Trade, in conjunction with Human Capital Strategies, through the Surrey Pandemic Rapid Response Business Centre, informs businesses and policy makers by tracking economic recovery from the pandemic.
“The Surrey Board of Trade releases our latest ‘Surrey Business Leadership Perspective on the BC Labour Force Survey’ for September 2020,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “While Canada’s and BC’s economies had gains in job growth, the net job deficit is still concerning.”
CANADA: The September Labour Force Survey data nationally outpaced expectations with 378,000 jobs added, mostly full time and 9% unemployment rate nationally. Employment in Canada still has 719,500 fewer jobs in September than in February 2020, a 3.7% deficit due to the pandemic.
BC: Employment in the province increased more in September (by 54,800) than the 15,300 jobs in August – 70% of the growth was in full-time employment. Employment is still down by almost 94,800 jobs since February, a 3.7% deficit.
GENERAL: A positive indicator is that employment levels in 4 of 9 occupational categories (natural & applied sciences, manufacturing & utilities, natural resources/agriculture and health) in September are now at levels higher than the pre-pandemic February milestone. BC continues to be well-positioned fiscally, economically and public health-wise to survive and thrive through this pandemic. Continued employment recovery will depend on planning for a ‘next normal’, safe work and consumer practices and mitigation of coronavirus outbreaks including new measures in light of school openings and cold and flu season. Employers and employees, consumers and parents, students and educators will all have important roles in this.
“If we face another economic shut-down, which we don’t want, nor can the economy withstand, we do face a longer-term economic recovery. Surrey in itself has the greatest number of manufacturers, and a thriving development and construction sector. Many of our businesses were able to continue operation during the pandemic. What we need to pay attention to, though, is the smaller businesses and those business that have entry level positions.”
SURREY BUSINESS LEADERSHIP PERSPECTIVE
BC Labour Force Survey Data
Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, September 2020 (Released October 9, 2020)
Overall – Canada
· Employment recovery is continuing across the country. All provinces except PEI (slight drop in employment) and New Brunswick (1.0% increase in unemployment rate) saw gains in employment and reduced unemployment rates in September.
· Canada gained 378,200 jobs between August and September 2020 (stronger than the previous month’s job growth), a 2.3% increase in employment – 88% of job growth was in full-time employment. The back to work trend has increased employment by almost 2.3 million jobs for a 14.1% increase since April.
· The unemployment rate dropped to 9.0% in September from 10.2% in August, however it remains higher than the 5.6% in February 2020.
· Employment in Canada still has 719,500 fewer jobs in September than in February 2020, a 3.7% deficit due to the pandemic.
Overall – BC
· Employment in the province increased more in September (by 54,800) than the 15,300 jobs in August – 70% of the growth was in full-time employment. September’s increase in jobs was 2.3% in BC in the last month, equal to the Canadian average. This means BC has had an increase in employment of almost 301,700 jobs since the BC recovery started in April.
· BC’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.4% in September from 10.7% in August, however it remains higher than the rate of 5% in February 2020. The drop in BC’s rate of 2.3% points was the second highest across the country behind Nova Scotia’s 2.4% points decrease.
· Employment is still down by almost 94,800 jobs since February, a 3.7% deficit.
· After gaining almost 21,000 jobs in August, goods-producing industries lost 10,000 jobs for a 2.1% drop in September, and collectively they remain at 20,300 fewer jobs now than in February – a 4.2% deficit.
· The main job changes in the goods sector in September was manufacturing gaining 6,800 jobs (+4.2%) and construction losing 14,600 jobs (-6.8%). The latter’s employment now is almost 40,000 fewer than in February (-16.5%).
· Employment levels in agriculture, natural resources, utilities and manufacturing are all now at pre-pandemic levels, higher than in February 2020. Manufacturing and utilities are up 8,300 and 6,300 jobs since February, respectively.
· Since the employment trough of April this year, goods-producing industries have increased employment by over 26,000 jobs or 6.0%
· Employment in the service sector in BC grew by almost 65,000 jobs (+3.4%) in September, meaning a total recovery of over 275,000 since April. However, employment in the sector is still 74,500 lower than in February 2020 (-3.6%).
· There were slight job decreases in accommodation & food (-2,200 or -1.2%) and transportation and warehousing (-500 or -0.4%). While gaining over 95,000 jobs since April, employment in accommodation & food remains at almost 17,000 lower than in February (-8.5%).
· All other service industries saw job growth of varying degrees. The biggest employment gains in services in September were:
– Other services (including personal services and automotive retail) – up 32,700 (11.4%) in the last month, and up 66,500 jobs (26.0%) since April; however, it still has 23,700 less jobs now than in February 2020, a 6.9% shortfall in recovery.
– No surprise that educational services increased in September by over 17,000 jobs for a 10.5% increase; and its employment now exceeds February jobs by 4,600.
– Finance & related services, health care & social assistance and professional, scientific and tech services (PSTS) grew by 7,900, 4,400 and 4,200 jobs in the last month, respectively. PSTS employment now exceeds its February jobs by 9,700.
· While retail & wholesale trade saw a modest growth of 500 jobs in September and an increase of over 42,000 jobs since April, its employment is still 33,400 lower than in February (-8.3%). Transportation & warehousing employment remains 12,500 fewer than in February (-9.1%).
· Employment growth and changes in unemployment rates was mixed in occupational categories in BC. While the BC unemployment rate has dropped to 8.4%, a number of the occupational categories have unemployment rates in the range of 4.0 or lower (e.g. lowest were management at 1.7% and health jobs at 1.8%).
· The biggest gains in jobs over the last month were in positions in education, law, social, community & government (ELSCG) (+31,700 or +14.8%), natural & applied sciences (+28,200 or +13.3%) and sales and service (+17,800 or +3.1%).
· The biggest employment losses in September were in a number of occupational categories: natural resources/agriculture (-10,500 or -16.1%); trades, transport & equipment operators (-10,200 or -3.0%); health (-9,400 or -4.7%); and business, finance & administration (-6,300 or -1.6%).
· Biggest changes in unemployment rates in September by occupation were:
– ELSCG rate decreased from 15.52% to 4.2%
– Sales and service dropped from 11.7% to 9.1%
– Business, finance & admin declined from 7.4% to 4.6%
· Employment in four occupational categories in BC are now at levels above February 2020 (pre-pandemic):
– Natural & applied sciences: +39,600
– Manufacturing & Utilities: +24,100
– Natural resources/agriculture: +12,300
– Health: +7,400
· Two job categories account for a deficit of over 111,000 jobs lost since February. Sales and service employment is still down by over 68,000 jobs and trades, transport & equipment operators are down by over 43,000. The former driven by the ‘high-touch’ and big-event services and the latter by reduced construction employment.
· All metropolitan and development regions in BC saw employment gains in September 2020 except for a small drop (-500) in the Kootenay region. Unemployment rates decreased in all areas since August except for a very small increase in the Cariboo region and that in the Northeast remained at 7.0%.
· While Vancouver metro area gained over 21,000 jobs in September, its employment level is still almost 125,000 lower than in February (-8.5%) and its unemployment rate is highest at 11.2%.
· Employment in Victoria and Kelowna metro areas are almost back at February 2020 levels.
· The Vancouver Island/Coast region has 13,400 more jobs now than in February; while despite growth of over 26,000 jobs in the Mainland/Southwest region in September, its employment is still down by almost 121,000 jobs (driven by Vancouver metro numbers).
Age, Gender and Other
· The youth (15-24) unemployment rate in BC dropped to 15.9% in September from 22.6% in August, Female youth unemployment rate dropped to 13.1% from 19.4% over the last month and the male youth rate decreased to 18.6% from 25.4%. The rate for all ages of women (7.7%) was below men of all ages (9.0%) in September.
· These rates are still much higher than the youth male and youth female unemployment rates pre-pandemic of 11.2% and 6.8% respectively.
· Overall, over 38,400 less youth are employed in BC now compared to February (-25,400 males and -13,100 females); and there 23,300 more unemployed youth (11,700 males and 11,300 females) since the pandemic started.
· Of the almost 94,800 jobs lost since February in BC, 75.3% were filled by men and 24.7% by women.
· The youth participation rate dropped from 64.9% to 60.3% over the last month (school enrolments) while the rate for those 25+ years up-ticked slightly.
· In terms of part-time work as a percentage of total employment in BC, it has crept up slowly since the recovery and was at 22.8% in September, up from 22.6% in August and up from 21.4% in February. For men in BC, part-time employment was 14.1% of total jobs; while this was more than double for women at 32.0% in September. These rates are similar and only slighter higher in each gender compared to February 2020.
· More troublesome perhaps, or an indication of more unstable or flexible employment, the part-time employment as a percentage of total during the April-September recovery period in BC has been 52% – almost 157,000 of new jobs were part-time compared to 145,000 full-time ones.
· In terms of ‘class of worker’, a significant impact has been experienced by those self-employed, losing 5,600 jobs in the last month for 1.3% drop, and losing 14,200 jobs since February (-3.2%). Private sector employment outpaced public sector jobs in September, gaining 36,100 or 2.4% vs. 24,300 or 5.2%.
· However, private sector employment is now still almost 110,000 or 6.7% below February levels; whereas public sector jobs (health care, school opening, long term care) have increased by almost 29,000 or 6.2%.
· Economic activity in Canada and BC continues to produce increases in employment and reduced unemployment rates since April and this continued in September, with larger employment growth than in August, particularly in a few goods industries and a number of services industries.
· We are now seeing employment levels in more industries and occupations which match or exceed February levels.
· In terms of job losses, BC’s economy is still in a job-deficit from impacts of the pandemic (almost 95,000 jobs lost and not yet recovered) and the recovery is variable across industries and occupations:
– Goods-producing industries – After gaining 10,000 jobs in August, goods industries’ employment dropped by an equal amount in September. Manufacturing, natural resources and utilities and agriculture are at pre-pandemic job levels, while construction is lagging.
– While still below pre-pandemic job levels (by almost 75,000), the services-producing industries gained 65,000 jobs in September, perhaps driven by school and post-secondary openings, more hiring in health and long-term care, more openings in personal and other services and increased confidence and expansion among service businesses that reopened in May.
– A positive indicator is that employment levels in 4 of 9 occupational categories (natural & applied sciences, manufacturing & utilities, natural resources/agriculture and health) are now in September at levels higher than the pre-pandemic February milestone.
· BC continues to be well-positioned fiscally, economically and public health-wise to ‘survive and thrive’ through this pandemic. Continued employment recovery will depend on planning for a ‘next 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. Employers and employees, consumers and parents, students and educators will all have important roles in this.
· The September 2020 LFS data provides continued positive momentum for a BC economic recovery that will require effective public policies and support, innovative business practices, increased digital transformation, business resilience and a collaborative approach to economic recovery among governments, businesses, workers and public sector service providers.
Source: BC Stats – Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, September 2020. Released October 9, 2020. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/data/statistics/employment-labour/labour-market-statistics.
Kerry Jothen, B.A., M.A.
CEO + Principal, HUMAN CAPITAL STRATEGIES
CEO, Surrey Board of Trade