Labour Market Information

Labour Market Information

Real-time labour market information and intelligence will be collected through pulse surveying and other intelligence-gathering methods. Regular reports will identify those employers, sectors and workers most impacted and most in need of services. Reports include the following:

  • Surrey Business Leadership Perspective on the BC Labour Force Survey Results (distributed once per month)
  • Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Reports (distributed once per month)
  • Surrey Pulse Survey Reports (distributed approx. every 2 months)

Surrey Business Leadership Perspective on the BC Labour Force Survey: 


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.


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Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Reports:

Surrey Recovered 29,000 Jobs Says January Labour Market Intelligence Report

The Surrey Board of Trade’s 5th Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Report on COVID-19-related impacts indicates that 29,000 jobs have been recovered since the beginning of the pandemic. Now Surrey is in a net deficit of just over 8,000 jobs, down from a peak of over 37,000 jobs lost since the beginning of the pandemic.

“While other surveys and statistics show dire business futures, Surrey shows good economic progression and a positive economic future,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “However, we can’t lose sight of those businesses that are the hardest hit by the pandemic – and needing continued support by business organizations and government.”


·       The total estimated net deficit of jobs in Surrey since February 2020 is now just over 8,000 jobs, down from a peak of over 37,000 jobs lost.

·       Since the end of July 2020, Surrey has recovered over 29,000 jobs (over 78% of the jobs lost between March and July 2020) with over 4,500 of these recovered jobs being attributed to the month of December. In the last half of 2020, the number of jobs has been on a steady incline.

·       The Utilities industry is the only industry in Surrey that has trended in the opposite direction of overall jobs, with significant gains in the first half of 2020 (over 1,000 jobs gained) and consistent losses in the second half (over 750 jobs lost).

·       The industries that have seen the strongest recovery, in terms of number of jobs recovered since July, include: Accommodation & Food Services (almost 7,000 jobs); Business, Building & Other Support Services (over 4,100 jobs); and Transportation & Warehousing (over 3,300 jobs).

·       Employment losses by occupation in December 2020 were seen in Manufacturing & Utilities occupations (approximately 690 jobs), Health occupations (approximately 400 jobs), and Art, Culture, Recreation & Sport occupations (approximately 187 jobs) in Surrey.

·       Though Sales & Services occupations have seen a steady increase in jobs since July (over 1,000 jobs gained in December 2020), these occupations have seen the greatest overall loss in Surrey (over 10,000 jobs lost) since the beginning of the pandemic.

·       Manufacturing & Utilities occupations show an overall net gain of jobs when compared to February 2020 (approximately 1,000 jobs), however these occupations have continually posted a job loss in every month of Q4 2020.

·       Though in December, some jobs were recovered in both of the following industries, they have seen the greatest overall losses since February 2020: Wholesale & Retail (over 5,700 or 11.3% of jobs lost); followed by Construction (over 5,500 or 17.3% of jobs lost); Other Services (almost 4,100 or 26.9% of jobs lost); and Transportation & Warehousing (almost 2,200 or 7.9% of jobs lost).

Anita Huberman
CEO, Surrey Board of Trade

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Previous Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Reports:

Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Report #5 – January 2020

Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Report #4 – December 2020

Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Report #3 – November 2020

Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Report #2 – October 2020

Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Report #1 – September 2020

Surrey Pulse Survey Reports: 

Survey Shows Surrey Businesses Need Different Support

The Surrey Board of Trade has released the Surrey Pulse Survey today, which gives the only on-the-ground snapshot of how Surrey businesses are doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Surrey businesses are resilient,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “But there are challenges to survive this pandemic. If provincial health orders shut down segments of industries without government support, then there will be continued negative impacts to not only Surrey’s economy but also BC’s economy.”


  1. Surrey businesses are resilient – only 5% have closed; 18% have partially re-opened; 27% have mostly or fully opened; and 23% have experienced no impacts or increased their operations.
  2. However, Surrey businesses are seriously impacted by the pandemic – 48% have disrupted supply chains; 46% are experiencing staff absences; 44% say caution is keeping customers away; and 41% have reduced demand for their products or services.
  3. E-commerce and digital transformation – 56% of Surrey businesses have shifted one-quarter to 100% of their business to e-commerce and digital work.
  4. Staff impacts – One in six Surrey businesses have the majority of their staff laid off or shifted to non-regular/non-full-time work. 41% of Surrey businesses report that staff safety concerns prevent them from returning to or remaining at the workplace.
    • CEWS (Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program); CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit Program); LEEFF (Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility Program); CECRA (Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program
  5. Government support is mixed – The federal CEWS and CERB programs are most used by Surrey employers and most Surrey businesses do not quality the most for LEEFF and CECRA funding.
  6. Surrey businesses need different support – 81% of Surrey businesses want general tax credits/tax cuts; 80% want greater economic stimulus funding; 79% want reduced interest rates; and 78% want better/more payroll tax breaks; and
  7. Surrey business optimism is mixed – 37% of Surrey businesses expect business to return to pre-COVID staffing and revenue levels by or before Q1 or Q2 of 2021. 27% percent expect that they will not see pre-COVID levels in staffing and revenue until 2022, later or never (3%).


Shift to E-commerce or Digital Work
In this environment, it is interesting that 39% of respondents indicated that none of their business has shifted to e-commerce or digital work. On the other hand, more than half had shifted their business in this direction: 26% had shifted 75% to 100% of their business; and 28% of respondents had shifted by 25% to 50%.

Staffing Changes
An encouraging 44% of respondents are currently at pre-pandemic staffing levels or above (4% are above pre-pandemic levels). However, a significant almost 20% of responding businesses have experienced 40% to 100% of their being laid off and/or shifting to part-time/temporary/ seasonal status. One in six business have the majority of their staff laid off or shifted to non-regular/non-full-time work.

Key Barriers to Getting Employees Back to Work (and Retaining)   
The key barriers to bringing back and/or retaining workers most cited by respondents were (percentages are the proportion of respondents that selected each barrier):

  1. Employee safety concerns (41%)
  2. Social distancing requirements (40%)
  3. Other (29%)
  4. CERB/Government benefits have discouraged employees from returning (22%)
  5. Requirement for fewer workers to be operating (21%)
  6. Staffing costs (14%)
  7. Difficulty for employees to get safely to and from work (12%)

Extent of Certain Challenges
The most significant impacts reflected by the proportion of respondents were:

  • Disruptions in services or supplies need to run one’s business (48%)
  • Staff absences due to voluntary/mandatory self-quarantine (46%)
  • Heightened public fear causing customers to avoid their location or services (44%)
  • Decreased demand for businesses’ products or services (41%)
  • Almost four-in-ten businesses experienced an increase in demand for their products or services

Use of Existing Government Relief Programs

  • Thirty-five percent of businesses have used or are using the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program, and a further 5% plan to use it. The balance either do not need it (31%) or do not qualify (29%).
  • More than one-quarter (26%) of Surrey businesses are using or have used Canada Emergency Business Account and a further 9% plan to do so. Two-thirds either do not need it (39%) or do not qualify (26%) for it.
  • An equal number of Surrey businesses are either using/did use (6%) or plan to use (6%) the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance. Half of businesses do not need it and another 38% do not qualify.
  • Business Credit Availability Program is being used or have been used by 8% of Surrey businesses, with a further 10% planning to use it. More than half (52%) indicate they do not need it and a further 30% do not qualify for it.
  • Only 1% responding business is using or has used Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF), while an additional 3% are planning to do so. Half of businesses indicate they do not qualify and 46% indicate they do not need LEEFF support.


  • CEWS and CERB are the most used in Surrey
  • BCAP and CERB are the programs most planned to be used
  • The programs where Surrey businesses do not quality the most are LEEFF and CECRA

Usefulness of Types of Assistance Programs
The most popular types of assistance among Surrey businesses are:

  1. General tax credits/cuts (81% believe very or somewhat useful)
  2. Greater economic stimulus funding like business improvement grants (80%)
  3. Better/more payroll tax breaks (78%)
  4. Reduced interest rates (79%)

The options of least interest to Surrey employers are:

  1. Business counselling (56% not useful at all)
  2. Suspension of loan payments (43%)
  3. Delayed municipal property tax payments (42%)
  4. Better/more rent or lease assistance (41%)

Comments on Assistance Programs

  • Some businesses’ comments related to improving or increasing existing programs such as CEBA, CEWS and CECRA, arts/tourism supports and the BC SBRG.
  • A few businesses’ comments suggested the need for rapid and on-site testing, including SBOT setting up a testing centre; and educating smaller employers in the Fraser Valley on COVID-19 health and safety practices.
  • A few businesses’ comments referred to various types of economic stimulus efforts.

Expectations on Returning to Pre-COVID Staff and Revenue Levels
When asked when they expect business to return to pre-COVID staffing and revenue levels, 37% of Surrey businesses responded that they thought this would happen by or before Q1 or Q2 of 2021.

Another 37% of businesses believe this will not happen until Q3 or Q4 in 202.

27% percent were even less optimistic and expect that they will not see pre-COVID levels in staffing and revenue until 2022, later or never (3%).

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Surrey Pulse Survey Reports

SURREY PULSE SURVEY #1 – November 2020