MEDIA RELEASE: Surrey Board of Trade Says Today’s Labour Force Statistics Show BC’s Job Recovery Strong But Focus on Labour Market Gaps Must be a Priority

The Surrey Board of Trade’s review of the July 2021 Labour Force Statistics is released for the period of June 13 to 19, 2021.

The Surrey Board of Trade is confident that BC is well-positioned fiscally, economically, and public health-wise to move into a more forward-looking next phase of recovery, and into effectively managing communicable diseases in the workplace and community on an ongoing basis,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “But the challenges are the current and foreseeable significant labour market gaps that need to be addressed. We need to tie industry needs to training and education. In addition, flexible learning options that meet market demand while allowing workers to reskill or upskill are essential.”

Governments, industry groups and service providers will need to be more effective in supporting businesses to find, attract and retain the talent they need to recover and expand.

“Vaccinations – two doses – continue to be the pathway to recovery and businesses in BC need to continue to be supported to move to recovery and resiliency as they see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.”



BC Labour Force Survey Data
Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, June 2021 (Released July 9, 2021)

Overall – Canada
  • The July 2021 Labour Force Survey (LFS) data reflects labour market conditions during the week of June 13 to 19, 2021.
  • With public health restrictions significantly reduced since May in most of the country (except Manitoba), employment in Canada increased by +231,000 or +1.2% in June 2021 while the unemployment rate decreased to 7.8 (from 8.2%). All of this job gain was from part-time work (up +264,000 or +8.0%), focused mainly among youth (15-24), up +164,000 or +7.1%. There was little change in full-time employment and still -336,000 or -2.2% lower than before the pandemic. Self-employment dropped by -63,000 or -2.3%, and private sector employment rose by +251,000 or +2.15% in June after two months of declines, and it is still lower than pre-pandemic levels by -313,000 or -2.5%.
  • This growth was led by employment increases in our three biggest provinces (Ontario, Quebec and BC) and Nova Scotia.
  • Despite these positive trends, employment in Canada is still down -340,400 or -1.8% since pre-pandemic February 2020.
  • Goods-producing jobs dropped for the second month in a row by -48,000 in June (-1.2%), led by decreases in construction (-23,000 or -1.6%) and natural resources (-9,800 or -2.9%).
  • Job growth was driven by increases to in-person, face-to-face services due to lifting of public health restrictions in several jurisdictions:
    • Accommodation and food services gained +101,000 jobs or +11.8% above May 2021
    • Retail trade increased jobs by +75,000 or +3.4%
    • Other services saw a +24,000 increase or +3.3%
  • However, gains were also seen in other service industries in Canada. Education services and health care and social assistance increased employment by +26,000 or +1.8% and +21,000 or +0.8%, respectively.
  • Employment decreased in transportation and warehousing by -17,000 or -1.8%.
  • The largest job losses in June were in Saskatchewan (-6,500 or -1.8%), Manitoba with remaining restrictions in June (-6,400 or -1.0%), and PEI (-1,400 or -1.8%).
  • The number of long-term unemployed in Canada (those unemployed for 27 weeks or more) changed little in June but still exceeds February 2020 levels by +298,000 or +166.0%).
  • Not surprisingly with more work from lifted restrictions, Canadians working from home dropped significantly by nearly -400,000 or over -7.5% to 4.7 million.
  • Canada’s “rising tide” in June brought labour market improvements for several groups:
    • Increases in sales and service occupations brought a +72,000 job increase for Chinese Canadians and Filipino Canadians.
    • The unemployment rates among groups designated as visible minorities saw a decrease in their unemployment rate of -1.3 percentage points – highest among Southeast Asian (-3.9 points) and Filipino (-3.0%) Canadians.
    • Employment for very recent immigrants increased by +3.7 percentage points to a 67.7% employment rate.
    • Women aged 55+ experienced a +26,000 or +1.4% growth in employment in June.
    • As mentioned, youth aged 15-24 saw a significant increase in jobs and post-secondary students increased their employment rate by +10.0 percentage points.
    • The labour market underutilization rate dropped by -2.0 percentage points to 15.6% in June with all indicators decreasing (unemployed job searchers, employed working less than half usual hours, not in labour force but wanting work and unemployed on temporary layoff or pending future starts).
Overall – BC
  • After a lag in recovery in May, with BC Restart’s reduced public health restrictions in Steps 1 and 2 saw payoffs in the June 2021 reference week. There should be further job gains with reduced restrictions that started on July 1.
  • BC’s employed grew by +42,100 or +1.6% in June for a total recovery of 427,600 or +19.2% increase since the low of April 2020. This is the single largest monthly increase in BC since the May-July 2020 period. Now employment levels in BC are higher than the pre-pandemic February 2020 by +17,000 or +0.6%.
  • The BC unemployment rate in June dropped -4 percentage points to 6.6%, the lowest since before the pandemic. This low is only exceeded by Quebec at 6.3% in June and well below the national average of 7.8%.
  • Despite this growth and the number of unemployed British Columbians being lowest since March 2020, the unemployment level is still +45,400 or +3.2% higher than in February 2020.
  • BC, along with Ontario and Quebec, led the way in job gains in June, all in the +1.6 to +1.7% range of growth.
Goods-Producing Industries
  • BC’s goods-producing industries lost -15,000 jobs or -3.1% since May 2021, with only small increases in agriculture and utilities.
  • While overall, the sector remains -26,600 or -5.3% below pre-pandemic employment, manufacturing (+8,300 or +5.0%), natural resources (+7,200 or +17.0%) and utilities (+6,900 or +44.8%) are all significantly above February 2020 employment.
  • Construction (-42,600 or -17.0% with a drop of -10,100 in June 2020) and agriculture (-6,400 or -22.3%) remain at worrisome recovery levels.
  • Overall, the BC good-producing sector has recovered +27,900 jobs for a +6.2% increase since April 2020, with manufacturing, natural resources and utilities leading the way in this regard.
Service-Producing Industries
  • Employment in BC’s service-producing industries – with easing in restrictions in BC’s Restart – increased significantly by +57,000 jobs (+2.7%) in June 2021. Every service industry except transportation and warehousing (T&W) (-2,900 or -2.1%) experienced varying degrees of job growth.
  • In terms of numbers of jobs, this June growth was led by accommodation and food services (+19,200 or +12.2%), other services (+11,300 or +3.3%), health care and social assistance (+10,600 or +3.0%), and finance and related (+6,800 or +4.1%). Retail and wholesale trade saw negligible growth.
  • The service sector in BC has recovered almost 400,000 jobs (+22.4%) since April 2020. This has been led by several industries:
    • Other services recovered +96,400 or +37.1%
    • Accommodation and food services: +85,700 or +94.3%
    • Retail and wholesale trade (RWT): +64,200 or +19.3%
    • Health care and social assistance (HCSS): +53,900 or +17.7%
    • Professional, scientific and tech services (PSTS): +44,300 or +20.1%
    • Educational services and public administration both gained over 20,000 jobs each in June
  • Despite this massive recovery – particularly with higher employment levels now than in pre-pandemic February 2020 in PSTS, HCSS and public administration – the BC service sector is still down -43,500 or -2.0% in employment since the pandemic began:
    • Accommodation and food services is down -24,500 or -12.2% since February 2020
    • RWT is down by -14,000 or -3.4%
    • T&W is down by -6,300 or -4.4%
    • Other services is down -3,900 or -1.0%
  • These and other service industries should see further recovery as BC’s Restart moved into Step 3 July 1.
  • With the increasingly reopened BC economy, the job market is getting much hotter and tighter:
    • Nine of 10 occupational categories have unemployment rates of between 0.7% (health) and 4.0% (trades, transport and equipment operators). Only manufacturing exceeds this with a respectable 6.0% rate.
    • Eight of 10 categories have unemployment rates lower than in February 2020.
    • The rate for natural resources and agriculture is at 2.5% in June 2021 compared to 16.9% in February 2020. Its June rate of 2.5% was a more than 50% decrease from 5.5% in May.
    • Sales and services’ rate in June dropped to 2.8% from 5.1% in May.
    • Health jobless rate dropped from 2.5% to 0.7% in this period.
  • Over the last month, the biggest job gains were seen in sales and service (+47,600 or +8.1%), business, finance and administration (+29,400 or +7.0%), education, law, social, community and government (ELSCG) (+22,200 or +7.4%) and natural resources and agriculture (+9,300 or +16.4%).
  • At the occupational level, employment recovery since February 2020 is mixed:
    • The types of positions leading recovery are: natural & applied sciences (+40,600 or +19.7%); ELSCG (+39,400 or +14.5%); natural resources and agriculture (+20,300 or +44.3%); health (+14,000 or +3.2%); and manufacturing (+13,700 or +20.4%).
    • Those categories with still room to recover to pre-pandemic levels are: sales and service (-42,600 or -6.3%); business, finance and admin (-30,900 or -7.4%); management (-31,700 or -12.5%); and arts, culture, recreation and sport (-5,200 or -5.6%).
  • Census metropolitan areas and development regions in BC experienced small to modest fluctuations in employment in June 2021
    • Both Vancouver and Mainland/Southwest grew by +9,300 and +9,900 respectively, representing a +0.6% increase.
    • Northeast region (+1,100 or +2.8%), Victoria (+4,000 or +1.9%), Kelowna (+1,900 or +1.8%), Thompson-Okanagan (+4,500 or +1.6%), and Cariboo (+1,300 or +1.5%) all grew in employment in June.
    • Only North Coast/Nechako (-700 or -1.6%) experienced a measurable job loss.
  • In percentage terms, the greatest job recovery since pandemic (February 2020) was in regions outside the Mainland and Vancouver Island regions:
    • Kootenay region has gained +6,000 jobs or a +7.7% increase; Cariboo region has seen a +6,200 or +7.6% increase; North Coast/Nechako region gained +2,200 jobs for a +5.3% increase; and Vancouver Island/Coast and Victoria grew by +2.2% and +2.3% respectively
  • The Thompson-Okanagan and Northeast regions have not seen the same recovery: -5,300 or -1.9% and -1,900 or -4.8% since February 2020. As part of this, Kelowna has lost -3,600 jobs for a -3.3% drop over this period.
Age, Gender and Other
  • Youth employment (15-24 years) in BC increased significantly in June 2021 by +35,700 or +10.9%, with men’s increasing by +4.4% and women’s by +12.0%. However, since the pandemic, men’s employment has increased by +24,400 or +14.0% and women’s has declined by -7,700 or -4.4%.
  • Along with these patterns, the 15-24 years cohort’s unemployment rate dropped significantly in June 2021 to 8.8% from 15.1% in May and is now lower than the pre-pandemic rate of 9.4%. While male youth rate dropped from 13.0% to 7.8% in June and is below the February 2020 rate of 11.7%; the female youth rate declined appreciably also from 17.6% to 10.1%; however, it is still higher than the 6.9% rate before the pandemic.
  • Full-time employment in BC decreased by -8,700 or -0.4% in June 2021, and part-time jobs increased by +50,800 or +9.2%. While employment for men and women in the last month increased by +18,600 and +23,400 respectively, it was all due to growth in part-time, employment.
  • BC has -32,800 less full-time jobs in June 2021 compared to February 2020 (-1.6%); however, the ratio of part-time as a percentage of total is higher at 22.7% (compared to 21.0% pre-pandemic).
  • In terms of ‘class of worker’, private sector and self-employment have been impacted differently in June 20201. Private sector jobs increased by +46,600 or +2.8% while self-employment dropped by -20,900 or -4.7%, while public sector employment grew by +16,400 or +3.2%.
  • This pattern remains when looking at recovery since the pre-pandemic period. Since then to June 2021, private sector employment has grown by +14,400 or +0.9%. Self-employment has dropped by -49,800 or -10.5%, while public sector jobs grew by +52,300 or +10.9% since February 2020.
  • After a ‘hiccup’ in BC’s job recovery in May, job growth in many sectors has led to the province’s biggest gain in employment since the May-June 2020 period between pandemic waves.
  • Lifting of some restrictions on businesses, regional travel and events from Steps 1 and 2 in BC’s Restart appears to have facilitated some of this.
  • BC joined Ontario and Quebec in leading the country’s recovery of jobs in June 2021; and for the first time since the start of the pandemic, BC’s employment exceeds pre-pandemic February 2020.
  • While goods-producing industries list 15,000 jobs in June – especially in construction and agriculture – manufacturing, natural resources and utilities saw gains and are leading the way in the recovery.
  • The BC service sector grew by +57,000 jobs over the last month, with growth in almost every industry and lead by accommodation and food, other services, health care and finance. However, the sector is still down by -43,500 jobs since February 2020 with accommodation and food, retail, transportation, and other services hardest hit.
  • In addition to certain industries and occupations, while still impacted, visible minorities, Indigenous People, very recent immigrant, older female workers, and youth in BC experienced labour market improvements in June.
  • Despite further job recovery required – perhaps after Steps 3 and/or 4 in BC’s Restart, the SBOT is more confident than ever that BC is well-positioned fiscally, economically, and public health-wise to move into a more forward-looking next phase of recovery, and into effectively managing communicable diseases in the workplace and community on an ongoing basis.
  • Based on SBOT intelligence and this latest jobs report, the job market and hiring pressures are becoming more acute as nine of 10 occupational categories have unemployment rates far below the natural (full employment) rate of 5%. Governments, industry groups and service providers will need to be more effective in supporting businesses to find, attract and retain the talent they need to recover and expand.
  • The SBOT encourages businesses and workers to maximize business opportunities while using rapid testing, vaccination, and reasonable precautions to mitigate risks; and to think about enjoying a far better summer and fall than 2020.
  • Don’t let up on full vaccinations as this continues to be the pathway to recovery, and businesses in BC need to continue to be supported to move to recovery and resiliency as they see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. This will also provide the means for British Columbians to enjoy their travel and visit within and outside the province in the coming months and years.

Source: BC Stats – Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, June 2021. Released July 9, 2021. Retrieved from

Composed by:

Kerry Jothen, B.A., M.A.


Anita Huberman
CEO, Surrey Board of Trade