The Surrey Board of Trade, in conjunction with Human Capital Strategies, through the Surrey Pandemic Rapid Response Business Centre, releases the latest ‘Surrey Business Leadership Perspective on the BC Labour Force Survey’ for December 2020.
“Now that vaccines are being rolled out in BC and Canada, we must work to understand and anticipate the implications for businesses, workforces and communities. Businesses will need to look at how they can help expedite employee vaccination, develop policies that reflect this new reality and effectively manage a mixed workforce of vaccinated and non-vaccinated,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.
Employment recovery slowed or reversed across the country in December 2020. All provinces except BC (see below) and Nova Scotia (+400) lost jobs since November, with the biggest losers being the prairie provinces and Quebec. Only Newfoundland and Labrador have recovered to February 2020 employment levels.
BC’s job recovery slowed in December by a growth of 3,800 jobs or a +0.15% increase. While the net job growth was small, full-time employment grew by 24,000 or +1.2% in December and part-time dropped by over 20,000 (-3.6%), similar to the national trend.
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 this COVID-19 ‘second wave’ surge (exacerbated by increased holiday risk-taking), health care pressures and more pressures on high-touch and service businesses, households and social networks to double-down. Records in new cases and hospitalizations continue to be set in some of Canada’s larger provinces.
We must keep in mind that these statistics reflect labour market behaviour in mid-December. With further restrictions on the movement, socializing, operations and behaviour of businesses, workers and consumers in the last month (and extended to February 5) due to the implications of the holiday season that has just ended, business and job growth may further be threatened.
SURREY BUSINESS LEADERSHIP PERSPECTIVE
BC Labour Force Survey Data
Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, December 2020 (Released January 8, 2021)
Overall – Canada
· Employment recovery slowed or reversed across the country in December 2020. All provinces except BC (see below) and Nova Scotia (+400) lost jobs since November, with the biggest losers being the prairie provinces and Quebec. Only Newfoundland and Labrador have recovered to February 2020 employment levels.
· Canada dropped -62,600 jobs between November and December 2020, a -0.3% decrease compared to a monthly average of +2.7% since May. Full-time employment in Canada increased by 36,500, but part-time jobs decreased by -99,000. The back to work trend has increased employment by 2.37 million jobs for a +14.6% increase since April.
· The unemployment rate rose slightly from 8.5% in November to 8.6% in December, remaining appreciably higher than the 5.6% in February 2020.
· Employment in Canada still remains over 636,000 or -3.3% lower than pre-pandemic levels in February 2020.
· Employment decreased in accommodation and food services; other services; and information, culture and recreation services – all impacted by public health measures. Service-producing sector jobs level declined by -74,000 or -0.5% in December, the first drop since April.
· Employment in the goods-producing sector changed little in December in Canada, however, manufacturing jobs increased by 15,000 or almost +1.0%.
· Total hours worked declined by 0.3% in December for the first time since April 2020.
Overall – BC
· BC’s job recovery slowed in December by a growth of 3,800 jobs or a +0.15% increase. While the net job growth was small, full-time employment grew by 24,000 or +1.2% in December and part-time dropped by over 20,000 (-3.6%), similar to the national trend.
· This means BC had an increase in employment of almost 363,000 jobs (or +16.9%) since the BC recovery started in April, a monthly average of over 2.1% over 8 months.
· BC’s unemployment rate increased to 7.2% in December from 7.1% in November; it remains higher than the rate of 5% in February 2020, but substantially lower than the peak of 13.4% in May 2020.
· Other provinces either saw slight drops or small increases in unemployment rates in December. Most significant drop was in Quebec (5 percentage points to 6.7%) and biggest increases in the unemployment rate were in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia (+2.2 percentage points to 8.6%).
· Employment in BC remains down by -33,600 jobs since February, a -1.3% deficit.
· Bucking a national trend, BC’s goods-producing sector is mostly a good story in December 2020.
· Overall, goods-producing industries in BC saw a +1.7% gain of 8,100 jobs in December 2020.
· Collectively goods industries have gained over 46,800 jobs since April and now slightly exceed February 2020 employment levels by 400 jobs. All goods industries in BC exceeded February employment in December 2020, except for construction which remains -27,800 or -11.6% lower than pre-pandemic levels. However, for the second month in a row, BC’s construction saw significant gains, 6,600 or +3.2% in December.
· Manufacturing also increased since November with a 3,300 or +2.0% job increase. While agriculture, natural resources and utilities all shed jobs slightly in December, they are exceeding February 2020 employment significantly – agriculture by 3,300 or +12.2% above pre-pandemic levels; natural resources by 8,400 or +22%; utilities by 3,500 or +23.6%; and manufacturing by 12,800 or +8.0%.
· The above four goods-producing industries have recovered 34,100 jobs since April and now exceed February 2020 employment by 28,000 jobs.
· Employment in the service sector in BC dropped by 4,300 jobs (0.2%) in December, delaying recovery but meaning a total recovery of over 316,200 (+18.5%) since April. However, employment in the sector remains -34,000 lower than in February 2020 (-1.7%).
· In December, all but three of the service industries saw employment increases since November. Accommodation and food services dropped by -7,400 (-3.9%) negating its 7,300 increase in the previous month. Other services and finance and related dropped by -1,300 (-0.4%) and 5,700 (-3.5%) jobs in December.
· Biggest job increases in December were seen in transportation and warehousing (4,900 or +0.7%); retail and wholesale trade (4,600 or +0.2%); professional, scientific and technical services (PSTS) (2,600 or +1.2%); public administration (2,600 or +2.2.%) and health care and social assistance (2,400 or +0.8%).
· Some bright news in service industry employment is the fact that PSTS, educational services and health care and social assistance all had employment levels in December that exceed February 2020’s pre-pandemic levels, collectively by 36,000 jobs.
· Also, despite slowed growth recently, since April 2020 some hard-hit industries have recovered a large number of jobs:
– By December 2020, accommodation and food services increased by 97,500 (+117%) since April
– Other services increased by 64,100 (+25.4%)
– Retail and wholesale trade grew by 49,700 (+15.2%)
– Health care and social assistance recovered 32,400 (+11.3%)
– Education services increased by 24,400 (+15.2%)
– PSTS grew by 19,200 (+8.8%)
– Transportation and warehousing, finance and related and public administration also contributed to the net recover of jobs since April
· Lastly, four service-producing industries remain well below full-recovery of jobs:
– Other services (high touch and hard to physically distance) is -26,100 or -7.6% below February levels;
– Retail and wholesale is still down 25,900 or -6.4%;
– Accommodation and food services jobs remain -14,600 (-7.5%) below employment in February 2020; and,
– Public administration and transportation and warehousing remain -8,900 (-7.9%) and -6,800 (-4.9%) lower than February job levels in December 2020.
· Employment growth and changes in unemployment rates were mixed in occupational categories in BC. The BC unemployment rate has increased to 7.2% but 5 of 10 occupational categories experienced reductions in this rate in December, led by a 2.0-point drop in manufacturing to 2.9% in December, a 1.7-point drop in trades, transport and equipment operator jobs, and a 1.6-point drop in education, law, social, community and government job categories.
· Biggest unemployment rate increases in December were in art, culture, recreation and sport (ACRS) from 5.6% to 6.8%; and in health, still very low at 2.1% but up from the November 1.0% rate.
· The biggest gains in jobs over the last month were in: natural and applied sciences (15,600 or +6.5%); management positions (2,300 or +0.9%); and health jobs (1,200 or +0.7%).
· The biggest employment losses in December were in a number of occupational categories: business, finance and admin (-14,900 or -3.7%); sales and service jobs (-10,700 or -1.8%); and natural resources and agriculture (-7,500 or -12.2%).
· Employment in five occupational categories in BC are now at levels above February 2020 (pre-pandemic) and totaling 101,300 jobs above pre-pandemic levels:
– Natural resources and agriculture: Over +27% above pre-pandemic levels or 11,400 additional jobs;
– Manufacturing & utilities: Up +24.3% or 15,700 above February job levels;
– Natural & applied sciences: Almost +30% or 59,100 jobs more in December than in February;
– Education, law, social, community & government: A +3.2% or 8,500 increase over pre-pandemic levels (ELSCG); and,
– Management: 6,600 or +2.7% more jobs last month than in February 2020.
· Two job categories account for a deficit of just over -93,000 jobs lost since February. Sales and service employment is still down by over -68,400 jobs (-10.4%) and trades, transport and equipment operators are down by over -24,600 (-6.7%). The former driven by the -high-touch- and big-event services and the latter by trades outside of construction.
· Jobs in the ACRS and business, finance and admin categories are also down since February by 10,900 or -12.4% and 18,600 or -4.6%, respectively.
· The unemployment rate declined in BC’s urban areas and more of the rural regions except in Thompson-Okanagan and Kootenay. The lowest rates in the province in December are in the Northeast (4.3%), Greater Kelowna (4.7%), Greater Victoria (5.6%) and North Coast & Nechako (5.6%).
· The biggest employment changes in December were in Vancouver Metro (21,200 or +1.3%), Kelowna (1,700 or +1.6%) and Abbotsford-Mission (2,600 or +2.7%). Modest job level drops were experienced in Vancouver Island/Coast region (-1.5% or 5,600) and a few of the rural regions.
· All development regions in BC had December employment levels higher than in February 2020 except Mainland/Southwest (-36,500 or -2.2%) and Kootenay (-400 or -0.6%).
Age, Gender and Other
· The youth (15-24) unemployment rate in BC dropped very slightly in December from 14.1% to 14.0%. Female youth unemployment rate increased back to at 13.2% in December, still appreciably higher than 6.8% rate for female youth in February; and the male youth rate decreased to 14.6% from 16.8% and it is still much higher than the 11.2% pre-pandemic rate. The rate for all ages of women (7.3%) was higher than men of all ages (7.1%) in December.
· Overall, over 31,600 less youth are employed in BC now compared to February (-9,900 males and -21,800 females); and there 18,100 more unemployed youth (6,000 males and 12,100 females) since the pandemic started. Unemployment increased and employment decreased more for women than men in December.
· Part-time employment as a percentage of total jobs in December was 21.7% overall, 30.2% for women and 14.0% for men in BC. These ratios are similar to pre-pandemic levels in February.
· Full-time employment in BC grew by 24,000 jobs in December while part-time dropped by -20,300. Full-time jobs are still -32,900 below February levels while part-time jobs are -800 below that period.
· In terms of ‘class of worker’, a significant increase was experienced self-employment in December, rising by 14,600 jobs (+3.5%). However, such jobs are still down -13,600 (-3.0%) from February 2020. Private sector jobs dropped -1.2% or 19,200 in December and are down by -50,200 since before the pandemic. Conversely, public sector jobs rose 8,200 in December and are up over 30,000 above February levels.
· The job recovery in Canada and BC since April 2020 has continued but has tapered off in October and November and essentially stalled in December, with less growth in jobs than in previous months.
· BC’s economy has recovered a massive amount of jobs (363,000) since April but remains -1.3% or -33,600 jobs down since before the pandemic.
· BC’s goods-producing sector has recovered almost 47,000 jobs since April and collectively now employs slightly more people than in February 2020.
· While construction is still a concern having lost a net of 28,000 jobs since February, it has gained over 12,000 jobs since October and hopefully will continue to recover.
· The other four goods-producing industries have employment that exceeds pre-COVID by 28,000 jobs and led by manufacturing, natural resources, utilities and agriculture.
· While the BC service-producing sector slightly declined by 4,300 jobs in December and accommodation and food services, other services and retail continue to be worrisome in recovery, there are bright spots among service industries. PSTS, educational services and health industries are now at job levels above February 2020, combining for 36,000 jobs above pre-COVID levels.
· The BC labour market picture is also showing recovery in some key occupational categories. Employment in five occupational categories in BC are now at levels above February 2020 (pre-pandemic) and totaling 101,300 jobs above pre-pandemic levels: natural resources and agriculture; manufacturing and utilities; natural and applied sciences; education, law, social, community and government; and management.
· However, sales and service jobs and trades, transport and equipment operator jobs are still down
-93,000 jobs in December compared to February 2020.
· 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 this COVID-19 ‘second wave’ surge (exacerbated by increased holiday risk-taking), health care pressures and more pressures on high-touch and service businesses, households and social networks to double-down. Records in new cases and hospitalizations continue to be set in some of Canada’s larger provinces.
· We must keep in mind that these statistics reflect labour market behaviour in mid-December. With further restrictions on the movement, socializing, operations and behaviour of businesses, workers and consumers in the last month (and extended to February 5) due to the implications of the holiday season that has just ended, business and job growth may further 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 December 2020 LFS data provides a picture of continued negative employment impacts and continued recovery in certain sectors, but 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.”
· Now that vaccines are being rolled out in BC and Canada, we must work to understand and anticipate the implications for businesses, workforces and communities. Businesses will need to look at how they can help expedite employee vaccination, develop policies that reflect this new reality and effectively manage a mixed workforce of vaccinated and non-vaccinated, etc.
Source: BC Stats – Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, December 2020. Released January 8, 2021. 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