The Surrey Board of Trade releases their latest Surrey Business Leadership Perspective on today’s Canada and BC Labour Force Survey.
“The Surrey Board of Trade remains confident that BC is well-positioned fiscally, economically and public health-wise to survive any further adverse labour market impacts of this pandemic,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.
“The February 2021 LFS data provides a picture of continued recovery at the aggregate level of the labour market, but with certain key sectors still significantly impacted by COVID. As the Surrey Board of Trade previously cautioned, 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.”
“Now that vaccines are being rolled out more rapidly and reliably in BC and Canada, businesses, workforces and communities must work together at how they can help expedite employee vaccination, develop policies that reflect this new reality and effectively expand business and work activities as more citizens are vaccinated and business restrictions are decreased and/or removed.”
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.
SURREY BUSINESS LEADERSHIP PERSPECTIVE
BC Labour Force Survey Data
Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, February 2021 (Released March 12, 2021)
Overall – Canada
· The February Labour Force Survey (LFS) data reflect labour market conditions during the week of February 14 to 20, 2021.
· Employment recovery across the country mirrored easing of COVID restrictions in many provinces, including Alberta, BC, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, and increased in Newfoundland and Labrador.
· Employment in Canada increased by 259,000 (+1.4%) in February 2021, after falling by 266,000 over the previous two months. This is a 14.8% increase or 2.39 million jobs since the low of April 2020, but employment is still down by almost 600,000 (-3.1%) since February 2020.
· Both part-time (+171,000 or +5.4%) and full-time (+88,000 or +0.6%) employment increased.
· The national unemployment rate fell 1.2 percentage points to 8.2% in February, the lowest rate since March 2020.
· The number of long-term unemployed (e.g. people who had been looking for work or been on temporary layoff for 27 weeks or more) dropped by 49,000 (-9.7%) from a high of 512,000 in January.
· For workers who were employed at least half their usual hours in February, the number working at locations other than home increased by 600,000 as schools and other workplaces in several provinces re-opened.
· The number of Canadians working from home (WFH) declined by 200,000 in February, but WFH continues to be an important adaptation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 5.2 million Canadians WFH last month, more than half (3.1 million) were doing so temporarily in response to COVID.
· Total hours worked increased again by 1.4% (driven by wholesale and retail trade), after the first increase since April 2020 of 0.3% in December 2020.
· Good news from Statistics Canada:
“In February 2021, the labour underutilization rate fell 1.8 percentage points to 16.6%—the lowest level since February 2020. All components of labour underutilization decreased, including job searchers (-131,000; -8.5%); those on temporary layoff or with arrangements to start a job in the near future (-103,000; -28.6%); those who wanted a job but did not look for one (-33,000; -5.7%); and those who were employed but worked less than half of their usual hours (-23,000; -9.2%).”
Overall – BC
· BC’s job recovery increased more strongly in February to grow by 26,600 jobs or a 1.0% increase, the largest monthly increase since September 2020.
· This means BC has had increased employment of over 395,000 jobs (or +17.7%) since the BC recovery started in April, a monthly average of almost +1.8% over the last 10 months.
· The pre-pandemic jobs deficit in BC is now at -15,100 jobs or -0.6% below this baseline.
· BC’s unemployment rate decreased 1.1 percentage points in February 2021 to 6.9%, the lowest since pre-pandemic 5.1% in February 2020, and almost half the rate during the peak of 13.4% in May 2020.
· The BC unemployment rate is well below the national average of 8.2% and below all provinces other than Manitoba (6.8%) and Quebec (6.4%).
· BC’s goods-producing industries dropped 9,800 jobs or -2.0% since January 2021. While up 32,300 jobs or a 7.2% increase since April 2020, BC goods jobs are still down by 22,200 or -4.4% since pre-pandemic February 2020.
· The biggest changes in February 2021 were manufacturing losing 6,600 (-3.8%) jobs and construction down by 2,100 (-1.0%).
· All goods sectors are up in employment since April 2020: Led by construction (almost 13,000 or +6.3%); manufacturing (10,000 or +6.3%); and forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying and oil & gas (FFMQOG) (7,700 or +18.4%).
· The goods sectors mostly still impacted by COVID in BC are construction (down by 33,100 or -13.2% since February 2020) and agriculture (down by 3,500 or -12.2%). The job ‘winners’ during the last 12 months were FFMQOG (7,100 or +16.7%), utilities (4,400 or +28.6) and manufacturing (2,700 or +1.6%).
· Employment in the service-producing industries in BC increased by 36,400 jobs (+1.7%) in February 2021 (meaning a total recovery of over 363,200 jobs, or +17.0%, since April). For the first time in BC, the service jobs exceed the February 2020 pre-pandemic baseline by 7,000 or +0.3%, representing a huge recovery in many sectors.
· In February 2021, three service industries saw significant employment increases over the previous month: retail and wholesale (14,500 or +3.8%); education (9,300 or +5.1%); and professional, scientific and technical services (PSTS) (7,400 or +3.0%). All other service industries saw minimal growth or reductions in the last month.
· In terms of the last 12 months during the pandemic, there have been service sector winners and losers:
– All service sector industries have seen their employment increase to varying degrees since the April 2020 trough – this is led by a recovery of 83,600 (+92.0%), 75,800 (+28.5%) and 50,600 (+15.2%) jobs in accommodation & food services, other services and retail and wholesale trade respectively.
– PSTS has led the way in growth since February 2020 with 34,800 or +15.6%; public administration jobs have increased 23,600 or +20.6% and education and health care by 11,200 (+6.2%) and 10,600 (+3.2%) respectively.
– However, some sectors have still not fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels of employment. Accommodation & food services, other services, retail and wholesale trade and finance sectors are collectively down by almost 69,000 jobs since February 2020. Accommodation & food services is still down almost 27,000 or -13.2% jobs.
· Employment growth and changes in unemployment rates was mixed in occupational categories in BC. The BC unemployment rate has decreased to 6.9% in BC, with 8 of 10 occupational categories having rates lower than this. Only sales and service jobs (8.2%) and natural resources and agriculture occupations (11.5%) are above the BC average. Good news in that arts, culture, recreation and sport (ACRS) occupations with unemployment dropping from 9.4% in January to 4.2% in February, and natural resources and agriculture occupations from 17.4% to 11.5%.
· The biggest gains in jobs over the last month were in: ACRS (5,800 or +7.5%); sales and service (35,400 or +6.2%); trades, transport and equipment operators (2,000 or +5.5%); health (6,800 or+ 3.4%); and education, law, social, community & government (ELSCG) jobs (9,700 or +3.3%).
· The biggest employment losses in February 2021 were in three occupational categories: manufacturing (15,000 or -17.3%); management (7,100 or -2.9%); and natural & applied sciences (9,300 or -3.5%).
· Employment in five occupational categories in BC are now at levels above February 2020 (pre-pandemic) and totaling almost 95,000 jobs above pre-pandemic levels:
– Natural resources/agriculture: Over +27% above pre-pandemic levels or 11,400 additional jobs;
– Manufacturing & utilities: Up +24.3% or 15,700 jobs above February levels;
– Natural & applied sciences: Now +26.2% or 54,000 jobs above February 2020;
– Education, law, social, community & government: Up +10.5% or 28,700 jobs since pre-pandemic;
– Health: Up +5.5% or 10,700 jobs above February 2020; and,
– Management: 6,600 or +2.7% more jobs last month than in February 2020.
· Three job categories account for a deficit of just over 97,700 jobs lost since February 2020. Sales and service employment is still down by over 71,600 jobs (-10.5%); trades, transport & equipment operators are down by 15,600 (-4.1%); and ACRS jobs is down by 10,500 jobs for an -11.2% drop.
· All occupational categories have higher (mostly significantly higher) employment levels now than in the April 2020 trough, except for management (-4,400 or -1.8%) and natural resources and agriculture (-3,000 or
· There was relatively little change in employment in BC regions and metropolitan areas over the last month, with unemployment rates staying the same or going slightly up or down. Mainly of note is that Kootenay region employment increased by 2,800 or +3.7% and North Coast/Nechako region’s unemployment rate increased from 6.3% to 8.5%.
· Employment levels are up in February 2021 over pre-pandemic levels, except in the most populated areas. Mainland/Southwest region (-41,500 or -2.5%) and Vancouver, Vancouver Island/Coast and Victoria all have small job deficits compared to February 2020. All regions and metro areas have employment levels in February 2021 that exceed April 2020 levels, many significantly so.
· Cariboo region’s employment is up 3,400 or +4.1% in the 12 months since the pandemic.
Age, Gender and Other
· The youth (15-24) unemployment rate in BC dropped in February from 16.8% to 15.0%. in January 2021. Female youth unemployment rate decreased 2.7 percentage points to 17.6% in February 2021, and 13.4% to 12.5% for males.
· Youth unemployment rates are still substantially higher than in February 2020, particularly for young women – now at 17.6%, still well above the 6.9% rate for 15-24 year old females 12 months ago. For young males and youth overall, the rates are now 12.5% and 15.0% respectively and were 11.7% and 9.4% respectively in February 2020.
· In terms of employment levels, 15-24 year old males gained 10,000 jobs in the last month (+5.9%), and female youth gained 4,500 (+2.9%) in this period. However, while young male employment is up 5,400 jobs since the pandemic started, female youth employment is still down 14,200 or -8.2% from 12 months ago.
· Full-time employment in BC increased by 3,900 or +0.1% (down by -1.6% since the pandemic) over the last month while part-time increased by 22,600 or +4.1% (up by 3.2% since the pandemic). Women’s employment in BC is down 11,000 since February 2020 and all of the net reduction was in full-time employment (-11,700). Men’s employment is down by 4,100 over the last 12 months, but their full-time employment is down 21,300 and part-time up by 17,100.
· In terms of ‘class of worker,’ a significant increase was experienced in public sector employment over the last month (22,200 jobs or +4.3%). Private sector jobs and self-employment saw very small increases.
· Since the pandemic started, the public sector in BC has grown by 63,700 or +13.3%; the private sector is down by 53,400 or -3.2%; and self-employment is down by 25,600 or -5.4%.
· The job recovery in Canada and BC has continued since April 2020 and saw appreciable employment gains in the last month.
· BC has had increased employment by over 395,000 jobs (or +17.7%) since the BC recovery started in April, a monthly average of almost +1.8% over the last 10 months. This rebound means the pre-pandemic jobs deficit in BC is now a small -15,100 jobs or -0.6% below this baseline.
· BC’s goods-producing industries dropped 9,800 jobs or -2.0% since January 2021. While up 32,300 jobs or a 7.2% increase since April 2020, BC goods jobs are still down by 22,200 or -4.4% since pre-pandemic February 2020. Construction employment continues to lag while resource-based sectors, utilities and manufacturing are above pre-pandemic job levels.
· Employment in the service-producing industries in BC increased by 36,400 jobs (+1.7%) in February 2021 (meaning a total recovery of over 363,200 jobs or +17.0% since April). For the first time in BC, the service jobs exceed the February 2020 pre-pandemic baseline by 7,000 or +0.3%, representing a huge recovery in many sectors.
· Services recovery has been led by the knowledge-based, WFH jobs and public sector growth in education, government and health care for obvious reasons.
· The biggest gains in jobs over the last month were in: ACRS; sales and service; trades, transport and equipment operators; health occupations; and ELSCG jobs. The biggest employment losses in February 2021 were in three occupational categories: manufacturing, management and natural & applied sciences.
· Three job categories account for a deficit of just over 97,700 jobs lost since February 2020: sales and service; trades, transport & equipment operators; and ACRS jobs.
· The SBOT remains confident that BC is well-positioned fiscally, economically and public health-wise to survive any further adverse labour market impacts of this pandemic.
· We must keep in mind these statistics reflect the BC labour market in mid-February when the economy is still in the throes of pandemic restrictions, but also British Columbians starting to see ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ with vaccination news. With loosening of restrictions and a ramp up of vaccinations in the coming weeks and months – while businesses, workers, educators and consumers will need to remain careful – there should be optimism and expectations of further labour market improvements.
· The February 2021 LFS data provides a picture of continued recovery at the aggregate level of the labour market but with certain key sectors still significantly impacted by COVID, as the SBOT previously cautioned, “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.”
· Now that vaccines are being rolled out more rapidly and reliably in BC and Canada, businesses, workforces and communities must work together at how they can help expedite employee vaccination, develop policies that reflect this new reality and effectively expand business and work activities as more citizens are vaccinated and business restrictions are decreased and/or removed.
Source: BC Stats – Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, February 2021.
Released March 12, 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