The Surrey Board of Trade, in conjunction with Human Capital Strategies, releases their analysis of the November 2020 Labour Force statistics.
“The job recovery in Canada and BC since April 2020 has continued but has tapered off in October and November, with less growth in jobs than in previous months,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.
“We also have to keep our eye on how upcoming vaccines will be rolled out and distributed in Canada and in BC, with implications for businesses, workforces and communities. Businesses will need to look at how they can help expedite their employees’ vaccination. Their policies will need to reflect a new reality (e.g. proof of vaccination, refusal to get vaccinated, managing a mixed workforce of vaccinated and non-vaccinated).”
CANADA: Canada gained 62,000 jobs between October and November 2020. Employment in Canada still remains almost 574,000 or -3.0% lower than pre-pandemic levels in February 2020.
BC: BC’s employment growth further slowed, +1.0% in November vs. +1.4% in October. November’s job growth was 23,900 in BC. Like the national trend, most of the increase in BC jobs was in full-time employment (+77.5%).
GENERAL: The ‘shining stars’ in BC job growth were natural resources (a gain of 4,500 jobs or +10.5% in November) and construction (up by 5,700 jobs or 2.9%). While natural resources employment is up 9,300 jobs or +24.3% since February, construction employment is still down 34,400 or -14.3% since then. Employment levels in November 2020 in agriculture, natural resources, utilities and manufacturing are continued to exceed pre-pandemic levels (February 2020). However, the youth (age 15-24) unemployment rate in BC dropped slightly to 14.1% in November from 15.6% in October. Further, female youth unemployment rate dropped to 11.1% in November.
SURREY BUSINESS LEADERSHIP PERSPECTIVE BC Labour Force Survey Data
Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, November 2020 (Released December 4, 2020)
Overall – Canada
· Employment recovery continued across most of the country but at a slower pace than previous months. Ontario, BC and the four Atlantic provinces showed job gains in November, while Manitoba experienced its first employment decline since April.
· Canada gained 62,000 jobs between October and November 2020, +0.3% growth compared to a monthly average of +2.7% since May. Almost all of the net job growth was in full-time employment. The back to work trend has increased employment by 2.43 million jobs for a 15.0% increase since April.
· The unemployment rate further dropped to 8.5% in November from 8.9% in October, however it remains appreciably higher than the 5.6% in February 2020.
· Employment in Canada still remains almost 574,000 or -3.0% lower than pre-pandemic levels in February 2020.
· Nationally, employment fell in November in industries most directly impacted by public health restrictions, especially in accommodation and food services. Conversely, job levels exceeded or approached pre-pandemic levels in industries where working from home and/or physical distancing is more possible (e.g. sectors in professional, scientific and technical services).
· Despite this job recovery, 448,000 Canadians – a 55.5% increase since February – were employed but worked less than half their usual hours.
Overall – BC
· Consistent with the rest of the country, BC’s employment growth further slowed, +1.0% in November vs. +1.4% in October. November’s job growth was 23,900 in BC. Like the national trend, most of the increase in BC jobs was in full-time employment (+77.5%).
· This means BC has had an increase in employment of almost 359,100 jobs (or +16.8%) since the BC recovery started in April, a monthly average of 2.4% over 7 months.
· BC’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.1% in November from 8.0% in October; it remains higher than the rate of 5% in February 2020, but substantially lower than the peak of 13.4% in May 2020.
· The drop in BC’s unemployment rate was the largest decrease in Canada outside of the Atlantic provinces and well below the national average of 8.5%. Alberta’s rate increased to 11.1% in November from 10.7% the previous month.
· Employment in BC remains down by 37,400 jobs since February, a -1.5% deficit.
· Overall, goods-producing industries in BC saw a +0.3% gain of 1,600 jobs with some ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ (see below).
· Collectively goods industries have gained over 38,700 jobs since April but are still down -1.6% or -7,700 jobs since February.
· Agriculture and utilities dropped 2,300 (-7.0%) and 1,700 (-8.3%) jobs in November, respectively. Manufacturing shed the most jobs, losing 4,700 (-2.7%) in November. However, all 3 of these goods sectors have employment levels above the pre-pandemic period (February 2020), and have recovered significantly since the April trough of their job levels (a combined increase of 17,300 jobs.
· The ‘shining stars’ in BC job growth were natural resources (a gain of 4,500 jobs or +10.5% in November) and construction (up by 5,700 jobs or +2.9%). While natural resources employment is up 9,300 jobs or +24.3% since February, construction employment is still down 34,400 or -14.3% since then.
· In summary, employment levels in November 2020 in agriculture, natural resources, utilities and manufacturing have continued to exceed pre-pandemic levels (February 2020).
· Employment in the service sector in BC grew by 22,300 jobs (+1.1%) in November (similar to October growth), meaning a total recovery of over 320,500 (+18.8%) since April. However, employment in the sector remains almost 30,000 lower than in February 2020 (-1.4%).
· In November, all but 3 of the service industries saw employment increases since October. It was good to see increases of 7,300 (+4.0%) and 6,200 (+1.7%) in two hard hit sectors – accommodation and food services and retail and wholesale trade, respectively. Other increases in jobs over the last month were seen in: transportation and warehousing (6,300 or +5.1%); professional, scientific and technical services (4,300 or +1.9%); and public administration (3,800 or +3.3%).
· In terms of catching up to pre-pandemic employment benchmarks, the BC service sector growth saw a mix of four service industries down and four others up from pre-pandemic job levels. Those most impacted:
– Retail is still down 26,500 or -6.6%;
– Other services (high-touch and hard to physically distance) is 24,800 or -7.2% below February levels; and,
– Transportation and warehousing and accommodation and food services jobs remain 7,600 (-5.5%) and 7,200 (-3.7%) below employment in February 2020.
· Four BC service sector ‘bright spots’ in terms of recovering to pre-pandemic levels by November 2020 are:
– Professional, scientific and technical services (PSTS) employment in November exceed pre-COVID levels by 17,100 jobs or +7.9%;
– Public administration employed 11,600 more workers (+10.3%) in November than before COVID-19 job impacts;
– Educational services employed 8,000 more workers (+4.5%) in November than in February; and,
– Health care & social assistance has 4,900 or +1.6% more jobs in November than in February.
· Employment growth and changes in unemployment rates were mixed in occupational categories in BC. The BC unemployment rate has dropped to 7.1% and 6 of 10 occupational categories experienced reductions in this rate in November, led by a 1.4-point drop in natural & applied sciences (2.6% to 0.8%) and a surprising drop in art, culture, recreation & sport (ACRS) from 12.5% to 5.6%. The latter may be due to more discouraged workers in this sector leaving the labour force.
· The biggest gains in jobs over the last month were in positions: in sales and service (19,000 or +3.2%), driven by gains in retail and accommodation and food services; in management jobs (16,000 or +6.9%); and in natural and applied sciences (6,500 or +2.8%).
· The biggest employment losses in November were in a number of occupational categories: ACRS employment dropped by 11,500 or -13.5%; trades, transport & equipment operator jobs declined by 8,000 or -2.3%; health jobs (not the industry) decreased by 7,500 or -4.0% in November; and jobs in manufacturing & utilities dropped by 4,500 or -5.4%.
· Employment in five occupational categories in BC are now at levels above February 2020 (pre-pandemic):
– Natural resources/agriculture: Over +45% above pre-pandemic levels or 19,200 additional jobs;
– Manufacturing & Utilities: Up +22.5% or 14,500 above February job levels;
– Natural & applied sciences: Almost +22% or 43,500 jobs more in November than in February;
– Education, law, social, community & government (ELSCG): A +2,9% or 7,700 increase over pre-pandemic levels; and,
– Management: 4,300 or +1.8% more jobs last month than in February 2020.
· Two job categories account for a deficit of just over 80,000 jobs lost since February. Sales and service employment is still down by over 48,700 jobs (-7.4%) and trades, transport & equipment operators are down by over 32,400 (-8.8%). The former driven by the ‘high-touch’ and big-event services and the latter by trades outside of construction.
· Jobs in the ACRS and health categories are also down since February by 13,800 or -15.7% and 4,400 or -2.4%, respectively.
· Good news that the unemployment rate in each BC development region and urban centre declined to varying degrees in November over October. The lowest rates were in the northeast region (4.8%), the North Coast & Nechako region (6.0%) and the Kelowna census region (5.0%).
· The biggest employment changes were in Vancouver Metro (34,500 or +2.5%), Kelowna (3,500 or +3.4%) and Abbotsford-Mission (2,600 or +2.7%). Very small job level drops were experienced in Victoria, Vancouver Island/Coast region and a few of the rural regions.
· Thompson/Okanagan region (+7,200), Kelowna (+3,600) and the Cariboo region (+2,800) all had employment levels in November 2020 that exceeded their February job levels.
Age, Gender and Other
· The youth (age 15-24) unemployment rate in BC dropped slightly to 14.1% in November from 15.6% in October. Female youth unemployment rate dropped to 11.1% in November, still appreciably higher than 6.8% rate for female youth in February. The male youth rate decreased to 16.8% from 18.0%, and it is still much higher than the 11.2% pre-pandemic rate. The rate for all ages of women (6.3%) was below men of all ages (7.9%) in November.
· Overall, over 28,300 less youth are employed in BC now compared to February (-12,000 males and -16,300 females); and there 17,100 more unemployed youth (10,300 males and 6,800 females) since the pandemic started.
· Of the net jobs (-37,400) lost since February in BC, 57.0% were filled by men and 43.0% by women.
· In terms of part-time work as a percentage of total employment in BC, it dropped slightly in November (22.5% down from 23.5%), and not much higher than the pre-pandemic era.
· Part-time employment as a percentage of total jobs in November was 29.5% for women and 16.2% for men in BC.
· With growth in full-time employment of 42,100 and a decline of part-time employment of 18,200 in November in BC, the part-time growth has eased a bit. Now, during the April-November recovery period, part-time job growth was 46% of total employment compared to the 54% it was at in October (April-October period).
· In terms of ‘class of worker’, a significant impact has been experienced by those self-employed, losing 8,100 jobs in the last month for -2.8% drop; but more significantly, while the BC labour market has seen substantial growth in job recovery since April, self-employed positions have declined by 38,400 or -8.3% during that period.
· While private sector employment increased by +2.4% in November in BC and public sector jobs decreased by -0.4%, private sector jobs are down by 31,000 (-1.9%) since February and public sector jobs are up 21,900 (+4.7%).
· The job recovery in Canada and BC since April 2020 has continued but has tapered off in October and November, with less growth in jobs than in previous months. BC led job growth in October 2020 and was second to Ontario in November. Its unemployment rate has continued to decline and led all provinces outside of Atlantic Canada. The BC labour market picture in November 2020 includes some ‘bright spots’:
– Employment levels in November 2020 in agriculture, natural resources, utilities and manufacturing are continuing to exceed pre-pandemic levels (February 2020);
– Four BC service sectors’ employment has recovered to pre-pandemic levels by November 2020: PSTS; public administration; educational services; and health care and social services;
– Employment in five occupational categories in BC are also now at levels above February 2020 (pre-pandemic): natural resources/agriculture; manufacturing and utilities; natural and applied sciences; ELSCG; and management;
– All regions and major metro areas in the province saw unemployment rate drops and many experienced modest employment growth; and,
– BC youth and BC women continue to be inordinately impacted by unemployment and part-time job growth, but this trend was moderated by shifts in November employment changes.
· However, some vulnerabilities and uneven recovery in BC employment remain:
– While it grew by 2.9% in November, BC’s construction employment remains 34,400 (-14.3%) below pre-pandemic levels;
– Retail and wholesale trade, -other services-, transportation and warehousing and accommodation and food services have a combined job deficit of 80,000 compared to February 2020;
– Arts and culture jobs dropped by 11,500 or almost -14% in November and is down by 13,800 since before the pandemic;
– Sales and service and trades, transport and equipment operator job categories remain 80,000 less than in February 2020;
– Women and youth are disproportionately represented in part-time employment and in unemployment growth;
– Self-employed workers have been going through a hard time and despite some recovery, the number of such positions has declined by 38,400 or -8.3% since the pandemic took effect.
· BC remains well-positioned fiscally, economically and public health-wise to survive any further adverse labour market impacts of this pandemic. However, our economy and labour market continue to be in a volatile period of uncertainty with a COVID-19 ‘second wave’ surge and health care pressures, the onset of flu and cold 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 their recent labour market impacts for even higher pandemic surges.
· We must keep in mind these statistics reflect labour market behaviour in mid-November. With further restrictions on the movement, socializing, operations and behaviour of businesses, workers and consumers in the last few weeks and throughout the coming holiday season and possibly beyond, business and job growth may be threatened.
· 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 November 2020 LFS data provides continued positive momentum for BC. As our October analysis warned, “economic recovery will require effective public policies and support, innovative business practices, increased digital transformation, business resilience and a collaborative approach among governments, businesses, workers and public sector service providers.”
Source: BC Stats – Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, November 2020. Released December 4, 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