The Surrey Board of Trade, in conjunction with Human Capital Strategies, through the Surrey Pandemic Rapid Response Business Centre releases their latest Surrey Business Leadership Perspective on the BC Labour Force Survey for October 2020.
Since April 2020, the job recovery in Canada and BC has continued but is slowing, with less growth in jobs in October than in previous recent months. BC led job growth in October 2020 and includes bright spots with several goods and service industries and occupational categories showing employment levels higher than before the pandemic.
BC’s economy is still in a job-deficit from impacts of the pandemic (over 61,000 jobs lost and not yet recovered) and the recovery is variable across industries and occupations)
“As we said last month, BC continues to be well-positioned fiscally, economically and public health-wise to survive and thrive through this pandemic,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “However, our economy and labour market are in a volatile period of uncertainty with increasing COVID-19 cases and health care pressures, the onset of cold and flu season and more pressures on high-touch and service businesses, households and social networks to double-down. One only has to look at Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec about rising infection rates and risks of business lockdowns and resulting economic impacts.”
Economic recovery 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.
SURREY BUSINESS LEADERSHIP PERSPECTIVE-BC Labour Force Survey Data
Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, October 2020 (Released November 6, 2020)
Overall – Canada
· Employment recovery continued across most of the country but at a slower pace. Saskatchewan and Manitoba saw small declines in October, and Quebec lost almost 13,000 jobs – perhaps mostly because of rising COVID-19 cases. BC (see below), Ontario and Alberta led the way in job growth since September.
· Canada gained 83,600 jobs between September and October 2020, +0.4% growth compared to a monthly average of +2.7% since May. 83% of this job growth was in full-time employment. The back to work trend has increased employment by almost 2.37 million jobs for a 14.6% increase since April.
· The unemployment rate dropped to 8.9% in October from 9.0% in September, however it remains appreciably higher than the 5.6% in February 2020.
· Employment in Canada still remains 636,000, or -3.3%, lower than pre-pandemic levels in February 2020.
Overall – BC
· BC saw the largest job growth in Canada in October – a +1.4% increase or 33,500 jobs since September. However, unlike nationally, most (+77%) of this increase was in part-time employment.
· This means BC has had an increase in employment of almost 335,200 jobs (or +15.6%) since the BC recovery started in April.
· BC’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.0% in October from 8.4% in September, 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 over 61,000 jobs since February, a -2.4% deficit.
· After losing 10,000 jobs in September, goods-producing industries (one exception) bounced back with a gain of 11,000 jobs for an increase of +2.4% in employment. Collectively, goods industries have gained over 37,000 jobs since April but are still down -1.9% or -9,300 jobs since February.
· This is driven by lagging construction job growth, as well as dropping 900 jobs in October. It has only recovered 200 jobs since April and is still down -16.7% or over 40,000 jobs since the pandemic.
· Employment levels in agriculture, natural resources, utilities and manufacturing are all now at pre-pandemic levels or higher than in February 2020.
· Collectively, after gaining 12,000 jobs in October, these four industries gained 36,900 jobs since April and are above February employment levels by almost 31,000. This was led by manufacturing which gained 5,900 jobs (+3.5%) in October and stands at almost +9.0% above pre-pandemic levels with 14,200 more jobs than in February. Despite a small drop of 600 jobs in October, utilities is up +38.5% or 5,700 jobs since February.
· Employment in the service sector in BC grew by 22,500 jobs (+1.1%) in October, meaning a total recovery of over 298,000 (+17.4%) since April. However, employment in the sector is still 52,000 lower than in February 2020 (-2.5%).
· Four key service industries are still down from pre-pandemic job levels:
– Despite a recovery of +13.1% or almost 43,000 jobs since April, and a small uptick of 700 jobs in October, retail and wholesale trade employment is down almost 33,000 jobs (-8.1%) since February.
– Other services (many high-touch personal services and automotive retail) grew by 2,300 jobs (+0.7%) in October and a huge almost 69,000 jobs since April; however, its employment remains down 21,400 jobs or -6.2% since before the pandemic.
– Accommodation and food gained a modest 2,100 jobs in October and has recovered a massive 97,600 (+117.6%) since April. Its employment remains at 14,500 (-7.4%) below February 2020 levels.
– Jobs in transportation and warehousing slipped by 1,400 jobs (-1.1%) in October after gaining 900 jobs since April and remains at an almost 14,000 job deficit (-10.1%) since February.
· The five other service-producing industry categories are all showing continued job recovery and growth, to the extent their employment in October exceeds pre-pandemic job levels to varying degrees. These industries’ growth in October ranged from +1.1% (educational services) to +2.7% (health care & social assistance) and all exceed February 2020 employment levels:
– Professional, scientific and technical services (PSTS) exceed pre-COVID levels by 12,800 jobs or +5.9%;
– Health care & social assistance has 6,600 or +2.1% more jobs in October than in February;
– Educational services employed 6,500 more workers (+3.7%) in October than in February; and,
– Public administration and finance & related industries employed 2,500 and 2,300 more people in October 2020 compared to pre-pandemic levels, respectively.
· Employment growth and changes in unemployment rates was mixed in occupational categories in BC. While the BC unemployment rate has dropped to 8.0%, half of the job categories have rates under the provincial average and ranging from 1.0% for health to 4.9% for business, finance and administration; and half have higher rates ranging from 6.1% (manufacturing and utilities) to 12.5% for art, culture, recreation & sport (ACRS). The latter category is the only occupation grouping with a rate that exceeds the overall BC unemployment rate.
· The biggest gains in jobs over the last month were in positions in trades, transport and equipment operators (+18,900 or +5.8%), in education, law, social, community & government (ELSCG) (+16,400 or +6.4%) and in natural resources and agriculture (+5,000 or +9.2%).
· 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%).
· The biggest changes in unemployment rates in October by occupation were:
– ACRS rate decreased from 17.0% to 12.5%
– Natural resources and agriculture increased to 7.3% from 4.4%
– Management rate doubled from 1.7% to a still-low 3.3%
– Sales and service dropped from 9.1% to 7.6%
· Employment in five occupational categories in BC are now at levels above February 2020 (pre-pandemic):
– Natural & applied sciences: +37,000 (+18.7%)
– Manufacturing & utilities: +19,000 (+29.5%)
– Natural resources/agriculture: +17,300 (+40.9%)
– Education, law, social, community & government: +9,200 (+3.5%)
– Health: +3,100 (+1.7%)
· Two job categories account for a deficit of over 92,100 jobs lost since February. Sales and service employment is still down by over 67,700 jobs and trades, transport & equipment operators are down by over 24,400. The former driven by the ‘high-touch’ and big-event services and the latter by reduced construction employment. Interestingly, as indicated above, the latter category (trades, etc.) saw a +5.8% job growth in October.
· Jobs in the management category are also down since February by -11,700 or -4.8%.
· Most of the non-Mainland/Vancouver Island regions experienced a decline in unemployment rates in October – Northeast region has the lowest rate in BC at 5.6% in October. Collectively, the Cariboo (+3,700), Kootenay (+2,600), North Coast & Nechako (-500), Northeast (-200) and Thompson/Okanagan (+7,500) regions grew by 13,100 jobs in October. They are perhaps less impacted by COVID-19 cases.
· While Vancouver metro area gained over 27,800 jobs (+2.1%) in October, its employment level is still almost 97,000 lower than in February (-6.6%) and its unemployment rate is higher than most other regions (except Cariboo’s 10.5%) at 9.7%.
· Victoria (+9,600) and Kelowna (+6,700) have recovered significant jobs since April and had unemployment rates of 7.7% and 6.8%, respectively, in October
· Employment in the Vancouver Island/Coast region dropped slightly in October (-2,800 jobs); however, it still has 10,600 more jobs now than in February
· While despite growth of over 29,400 jobs in the Mainland/Southwest region in October, its employment is still down by almost 91,400 jobs (a -5.5% deficit driven by Vancouver metro numbers).
Age, Gender and Other
· The youth (15-24) unemployment rate in BC dropped slightly to 15.6% in October from 15.9% in September. Female youth unemployment rate remained at 13.1% in October, almost double the 6.8% February rate; and the male youth rate decreased to 18.0% from 18.6%, and it is still significantly higher than the 11.2% pre-pandemic rate. The rate for all ages of women (6.8%) was below men of all ages (9.1%) in October.
· Overall, over 33,400 less youth are employed in BC now compared to February (-15,900 males and
-17,600 females); and there are 22,900 more unemployed youth (12,400 males and 10,500 females) since the pandemic started.
· Of the 61,300 jobs lost since February in BC, 78% were filled by men and 22% by women.
· 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 23.5% in October, up from 22.8% in September and up from 21.4% in February. For men in BC, part-time employment was 16.2% of total jobs; while this was almost double for women at 31.4% in October. 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-October recovery period in BC has been 54.4% – almost 182,400 of new jobs were part-time compared to 152,800 full-time ones.
· In terms of ‘class of worker,’ a significant impact has been experienced by those self-employed, losing 1,900 jobs in the last month for 0.4% drop; but more significantly, while the BC labour market has seen substantial growth in job recovery since April, self-employed positions have declined by 26,300 or +[HB1] 5.7% during that period.
· While private sector employment increased by +2.7% in October in BC, and public sector jobs decreased by -1.0%, private sector jobs are down by 69,000 (-4.2%) since February and public sector jobs are up 23,900 (+5.1%).
· Since April 2020, the job recovery in Canada and BC has continued but is slowing, with less growth in jobs in October than in previous recent months. BC led job growth in October 2020 and includes ‘bright spots’ with several goods and service industries and occupational categories showing employment levels higher than before the pandemic.
· In terms of job losses, BC’s economy is still in a job-deficit from impacts of the pandemic (over 61,000 jobs lost and not yet recovered) and the recovery is variable across industries and occupations:
– Almost all goods-producing industries are solidifying their job recovery and exceed February employment levels, with the exception of construction in BC, which is down -16.7% or over 40,000 since the pandemic started.
– While hard-hit service-producing industries have been showing steady recovery in jobs, transportation, retail, accommodation & food services and ‘other’ services are down by almost 83,000 jobs since February 2020.
– On the other hand, PSTS, educational services, health and public administration are all ticking along with continuing job growth.
– At the occupational level, despite short-term growth, sales & service and trades, etc. and management employment have almost 104,000 less jobs in October than in February 2020.
– Conversely, employment in natural & applied sciences, ELSCG, natural resources and agricultural, manufacturing and health occupations have all increased job levels before those in February.
· As we said last month, BC continues to be well-positioned fiscally, economically and public health-wise to ‘survive and thrive’ through this pandemic. However, our economy and labour market are in a volatile period of uncertainty with increasing COVID-19 cases and health care pressures, the onset of cold and flu season and more pressures on high-touch and service businesses, households and social networks to double-down. One only has to look at Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec about rising infection rates and risks of business lockdowns and resulting economic impacts.
· Governments, employers and employees, consumers and parents, students and educators, households, extended families and social groups all have important roles in mitigating COVID-19 impacts and averting an economic and employment contraction.
· The October 2020 LFS data provides continued positive momentum for BC. As our October analysis warned, “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, October 2020. Released November 6, 2020.
Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/data/statistics/employment-labour-market/lfs_data_tables.pdf
Kerry Jothen, B.A., M.A.
CEO + Principal, HUMAN CAPITAL STRATEGIES
CEO, Surrey Board of Trade
[HB1]Should this be negative?