Northeastern British Columbia

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Unemployment Rate


Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2008 -- -- -- 4.3 5.0 5.9 6.2 6.3 5.8 5.0 4.5 3.6
2009 4.6 4.6 6.5 6.5 8.4 7.7 7.9 8.3 7.9 7.2 5.5 5.4
2010 4.9 4.4 4.6 5.3 6.9 7.5 7.2 6.7 7.6 7.6 6.4 7.1
2011 9.0 9.1 8.1 5.4 5.1 4.0 4.4 4.2 4.3 4.3 -- --
2012 -- 3.7 3.6 4.2 3.9 4.8 4.3 4.8 4.4 3.8 -- --
2013 -- 4.1 4.6 5.2 6.1 4.9 4.5 4.4 4.9 4.9 3.6 4.7
2014 6.6 7.4 8.2 8.6 8.0 5.9 4.7 4.1 4.0 -- -- --
2015 -- -- 4.2 4.7 5.9 6.1 6.4 5.5 5.5 6.2 7.0 7.6
2016 8.5 9.2 9.7 9.4 9.6 9.2 8.8 8.6 9.4 9.7 10.0 10.5
2017 10.5                      

In January 2017, the unemployment rate in BC is 5.8% and 8.5% in Alberta.

-- : suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act

Labour Force

BC Highlights

The unemployment rate in British Columbia was 5.6% in the month of January, down from 5.8% in December. The gain in employment relative to the previous month (+11,200) was much greater than the increase in size of the labour force (+5,900). The unemployment rate was also lower when compared to January of 2016, when it was 6.6%. Job growth (+82,300) was greater than the growth in the labour force (+60,200) over the course of the past twelve months.

Compared to December, there was an increase in full-time jobs (+25,400), while part-time jobs fell by 14,200. Full-time jobs increased for both workers aged 15 to 24 years (+14,800) and 25 to 54 years of age (+12,700). On the other hand, there was a small drop in full-time employment for workers aged 55 and over (-2,100).

In January, employment in the private sector increased relative to the month before (+8,700), while public sector employment remained essentially unchanged (900). The number of self-employed individuals dropped by 3,400 during the same time period.


In January, employment in British Columbia for men (aged 25 years and over) grew by 1,700 jobs, while the labour force declined by 7,400. As a result, the unemployment rate was 4.8%, down 0.8 percentage points from the previous month.

For women (aged 25 years and over), employment increased by 2,600 jobs. The labour force grew at a slower pace (+900), edging the unemployment rate down by 0.2 percentage points to 4.8%.

Compared to January 2016, the unemployment rate for men was down by 1.4 percentage points to 4.8%, and for women it was unchanged at 4.8%. Jobs for men increased by 27,600 (+2.6%) compared to a year ago, and for women employment climbed by 34,500 (+3.6%).

Youths Aged 15 to 24 Years

The unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 24 years rose by 1.2 percentage points to 9.9% in January. Employment increased by 6,900 jobs while the labour force grew by 12,400 people. All job gains for youth were in full-time employment (+14,800 jobs), with part-time employment (-7,900) declining. Compared to January 2016, the unemployment rate for youth decreased by 2.6 percentage points to 9.9%.


In January, employment in the goods-producing sector was relatively unchanged (+2,200 or +0.5%) overall. Employment increased in forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas (+2,400 or +5.1%) and construction (+2,100 or +1.0%), while employment in agriculture declined (-2,300 or -7.7%). Compared to January 2016, the goods-producing sector gained 12,400 (+2.7%) jobs.

Employment in the services-producing sector increased by 9,000 (+0.5%) jobs in January. Industries posting gains included business, building and other support services (+5,300 or +5.4%), educational services (+3,800 or +2.4%), other services (+3,200 or +2.9%) and finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (+3,200 or +2.2%). Health care and social assistance posted the largest decline (-5,800 or -2.0%), followed by accommodation and food services (-3,000 or -1.6%) and transportation and warehousing (-1,100 or -0.8%). The services-producing sector expanded by 69,900 (+3.7%) jobs since January 2016.

BC Stats Infoline

Employment Insurance

December 2016

The number of British Columbians receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits dropped 1.6% (seasonally adjusted) in December, to 54,950.

Nationally, the number of EI recipients inched down 0.6%, to 568,790. The number of beneficiaries was down in most provinces across the country. Saskatchewan (-3.6%) saw the most substantial decline, followed by Quebec (-1.7%).  Data Source: Statistics Canada

BC Stats Infoline

In December, 568,800 people received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, down slightly (-3,200 or -0.6%) from the previous month.

Provincially, Saskatchewan recorded the largest decrease in beneficiaries (-3.6%) in December. Smaller declines occurred in Quebec (-1.7%), British Columbia (-1.6%) and Prince Edward Island (-1.3%). Conversely, the number of beneficiaries increased in Alberta (+1.7%), while it was little changed in the other provinces.

In the 12 months to December, the number of EI beneficiaries in Canada was up by 23,100 or 4.2%, largely as a result of increases in Alberta.

In general, changes in the number of regular EI beneficiaries reflect various situations, including people becoming beneficiaries, those going back to work and those no longer receiving regular benefits.

In addition, part of the year-over-year increase in December may be related to EI policy changes, such as those that came into effect in July 2016.

Provincial and sub-provincial overview

In British Columbia, 55,000 people received EI benefits in December, down 1.6% from November. While the number of beneficiaries in Kelowna was unchanged, the other three CMAs reported decreases: Abbotsford-Mission (-2.0%), Vancouver (-1.2%) and Victoria (-1.1%).

In Alberta, the number of people receiving EI benefits rose for the third consecutive month in December, up 1,700 or 1.7% from the previous month to 97,900. Excluding July 2016, when changes to EI legislation took effect, this was the largest number of beneficiaries recorded in Alberta since the start of the series in 1997.

Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation

Looking at the last occupation of EI beneficiaries, in the 12 months to December, the only decrease that occurred was in education, law and social, community and government services (-8.0%). In contrast, increases occurred in 8 of the 10 major occupational groups, most notably in management (+8.8%), business, finance and administration (+7.7%), natural and applied sciences (+7.7%) and health (+7.2%). The number of beneficiaries in manufacturing and utilities was little changed on a year-over-year basis.

Employment Insurance beneficiaries in major demographic groups

In December, there was a slight decrease in the number of men aged 15 to 24 (-1.6%) who were EI beneficiaries. The other major demographic groups were virtually unchanged.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of male (+4.9%) and female (+3.1%) beneficiaries rose in December. Most of this increase consisted of people aged 55 and older. Specifically, 74.4% of the additional female beneficiaries in December 2016 were 55 years and older compared with December 2015. The equivalent figure for male beneficiaries was 51.8%.

Employment Insurance claims

The number of EI claims totalled 239,800 in December, up 3.0% from the previous month. This was the first increase since July 2016. The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.

In December, the number of EI claims increased in every province except Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Quebec, where the number of claims was little changed. Most of the national increase in claims was attributable to the highly-populated provinces of British Columbia (+6.6%) and Ontario (+3.5%). The number of EI claims also increased in Saskatchewan (+13.5%), Prince Edward Island (+11.7%), Manitoba (+7.2%), Nova Scotia (+3.8%) and Alberta (+1.1%).

Compared with 12 months earlier, the number of claims in Canada was down by 4.2% in December.

Labour Force Survey

January 2017

Employment rose by 48,000 (+0.3%) in January, building on gains observed in the latter part of 2016. The unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percentage points to 6.8%.

On a year-over-year basis, employment rose by 276,000 (+1.5%), with most of the increase occurring from August to January.

Following a significant increase in December, full-time employment held steady in January. Compared with 12 months earlier, full-time employment was up 86,000 (+0.6%), with increases totalling 141,000 since August.

Despite little change in January, part-time employment was up on a year-over-year basis (+190,000 or +5.6%). In January, 19.6% of employed persons worked part time, compared with 18.8% the same month a year earlier.

In the 12 months to January, the number of hours worked declined by 0.8%. In general, changes in actual hours worked reflect a number of factors, including changes in the composition of employment by full-time/part-time status, industry, occupation, age and sex.

From December to January, employment increased among core-aged men and women (25 to 54 years old). There was little overall employment change among the other demographic groups.

Compared with December, employment rose in Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. In contrast, there were fewer people working in New Brunswick. Employment was little changed in the remaining provinces.

Nearly all of the employment growth in January came from the service sector, with increases in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing; business, building and other support services; transportation and warehousing; and public administration. On the other hand, there were fewer people working in information, culture and recreation.

The number of private sector employees edged up in January, while public sector employment and the number of self-employed workers were little changed.

Employment increases for the core working-age population

In January, employment for men aged 25 to 54 rose by 30,000, and their unemployment rate fell by 0.3 percentage points to 5.9%. The employment increase in January was the largest in over two years. On a year-over-year basis, gains for men in this age group totalled 69,000 (+1.1%).

Employment among women aged 25 to 54 increased for the second consecutive month, up 27,000 in January. Their unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 5.3%. The recent gains for core-aged women boosted their year-over-year employment growth to 76,000 (+1.3%).

In January, employment among youths aged 15 to 24 was little changed on both a monthly and a year-over-year basis, while their population growth continued on a downward trend. With more youths searching for work in January, their unemployment rate increased by 0.7 percentage points to 13.3%.

Employment among men aged 55 and older was little changed in January. However, their unemployment rate decreased by 0.5 percentage points to 6.5% as fewer men in this age group searched for work. In the 12 months to January, employment among men aged 55 and older rose by 65,000 (+3.2%) and their population increased by 156,000 (+3.1%).

Employment among women aged 55 and older was also little changed in January, and their unemployment rate was 5.3%. Compared with 12 months earlier, 64,000 (+3.8%) more women aged 55 and older were working and the number of women in this age group was up by 159,000 (+2.9%).

Provincial summary

Employment in Ontario rose by 29,000 in January. The unemployment rate for the province remained at 6.4% as more people participated in the labour market. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in Ontario was up by 90,000 (+1.3%), with all of the gains from August to January.

In January, employment increased by 11,000 in British Columbia, continuing an upward trend that began in the spring of 2015. In the 12 months to January 2017, employment increased by 82,000 or 3.5%, the fastest growth rate among the provinces. Over the same period, the unemployment rate fell by a full percentage point to 5.6%, the lowest among the provinces.

There were 4,200 more people working in Nova Scotia in January, and the unemployment rate fell by 0.6 percentage points to 7.7%. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the province increased by 9,800, partly due to the low reached in January 2016 and the fact that employment in the province has picked up recently, with most of the gains occurring since October 2016.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, there were 2,200 more people employed in January, and the unemployment rate fell by 1.3 percentage points to 13.8%. Employment in the province has been trending downward since May 2016.

Following an increase in December, employment in Quebec held steady in January. As the number of unemployed decreased (-15,000), the unemployment rate declined 0.3 percentage points to 6.2%. Compared with January 2016, employment in Quebec was up by 97,000 or 2.4%, powered by gains in the second half of 2016.

In Alberta, employment was unchanged in January, with part-time gains (+25,000) offsetting losses in full time (-24,000). The unemployment rate rose by 0.3 percentage points to 8.8%, as the number of people searching for work edged up. On a year-over-year basis, employment in Alberta was little changed.

In January, there were 3,000 fewer people working in New Brunswick, leaving employment for the province at about the same level as 12 months earlier. The unemployment rate edged down by 0.4 percentage points to 8.9%, the result of fewer people participating in the labour market.

Industry perspective

Employment in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing increased by 21,000 in January, bringing gains from 12 months earlier to 59,000 (+5.3%), with most of this increase concentrated in the last six months.

There were 16,000 more people working in business, building and other support services in January. On a year-over-year basis, employment in this industry was little changed.

In January, employment was also up in transportation and warehousing (+11,000), contributing to an increase of 23,000 (+2.5%) from 12 months earlier.

Employment in public administration rose by 7,800 in January, bringing total gains to 52,000 (+5.7%) from 12 months earlier. Over this period, gains were strongest at the local, municipal and regional level, with increases also observed at the federal and provincial levels.

Information, culture and recreation employment declined by 13,000 in January. Compared with January 2016, employment in the industry edged up 21,000 (+2.8%).

The number of private sector employees edged up in January (+32,000), building on the strong growth in the second half of 2016. In the 12 months to January, the number of private sector employees rose by 257,000 (+2.2%), with increases in a number of service sector industries as well as construction.

Both public sector employment and the number of self-employed workers were little changed in January. On a year-over-year basis, the number of public sector employees rose by 68,000 (+1.9%), the result of additional employment in public administration and information, culture and recreation. Self-employment edged down over the same period.

Canada–United States comparison

Adjusted to the concepts used in the United States, the unemployment rate in Canada was 5.7% in January, compared with 4.8% in the United States. In the 12 months to January, the unemployment rate fell by 0.5 percentage points in Canada, while it was little changed in the United States (-0.1 percentage points).

In January, the labour force participation rate was 65.8% in Canada (adjusted to US concepts) and 62.9% in the United States. The participation rate in Canada was unchanged compared with 12 months earlier, while it increased slightly in the United States (+0.2 percentage points).

The US-adjusted employment rate in Canada stood at 62.1% in January, compared with 59.9% in the United States. On a year-over-year basis, the employment rate rose by 0.4 percentage points in Canada and by 0.3 percentage points in the United States.

Payroll Employment, Earnings & Hours

December 2016

Average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees were $971 in December, an increase of 1.0% from November and 1.2% from 12 months earlier.

In general, changes in weekly earnings reflect a number of factors, including wage growth; changes in the composition of employment by industry, occupation and level of job experience; and average hours worked per week.

Non-farm payroll employees worked an average of 32.8 hours per week in December, little changed from the previous month but down from 33.3 hours in December 2015. Average weekly hours have been on a downward trend since the beginning of 2016.

Average weekly earnings by sector

In the 12 months to December, average weekly earnings increased in 2 of the 10 largest industrial sectors: construction and educational services. At the same time, earnings declined in retail trade, while there was little change in the remaining large sectors.

Compared with 12 months earlier, average weekly earnings in construction were up 2.5% to $1,234. Average weekly earnings were boosted by increases in the heavy and civil engineering construction subsector. Gains in earnings were spread across several provinces, with notable growth in British Columbia and Quebec.

On a year-over-year basis, average weekly earnings in educational services grew 2.5% to $1,042. Increases in earnings were spread across most industries in this sector.

Average weekly earnings in retail trade fell 2.1% to $566 in the 12 months to December. There were several decreases in this sector, primarily in general merchandise stores. Part of the decline was due to retail trade earnings being at a high point in December 2015.

Average weekly earnings by province

In the 12 months to December, average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees rose in six provinces. Increases were led by Prince Edward Island, followed by New Brunswick, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Ontario and British Columbia. Earnings declined in Alberta, while there was little change in Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Average weekly earnings in Prince Edward Island grew 3.2% to $834 compared with December 2015. Increases in earnings were driven by growth in finance and insurance and manufacturing.

In the 12 months to December, average weekly earnings in New Brunswick rose 3.1% to $889. Gains were spread across many sectors, led by finance and insurance. Earnings in the province trended up in the first and fourth quarters of the year, after holding relatively steady in the second and third quarters.

In Quebec, average weekly earnings increased 2.1% to $894 in the 12 months to December. Earnings growth was spread across several sectors, with notable gains in finance and insurance and construction.

Average weekly earnings in Saskatchewan were up 1.8% to $1,010 compared with 12 months earlier. Manufacturing, educational services, health care and social assistance and finance and insurance contributed the most to the increases.

Compared with December 2015, average weekly earnings in Ontario grew 1.6% to $994, with the largest increases in information and cultural industries and finance and insurance. Average weekly earnings in the province have been on an upward trend since September 2016.

In the 12 months to December, average weekly earnings in British Columbia were up 0.9% to $934, driven by increases in finance and insurance, construction and information and cultural industries. Both earnings and employment in the province trended upward in 2016.

Compared with 12 months earlier, average weekly earnings in Alberta were down 1.5% to $1,130. The largest contributors to the decline in December were professional, scientific and technical services as well as wholesale trade. At the same time, earnings were up notably in mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction, as well as educational services. In addition, earnings in construction were little changed, following year-over-year declines since early 2015. As a result, the downward trend that began in 2015 has lessened in the second half of 2016.

Non-farm payroll employment by sector

The number of non-farm payroll employees increased by 39,200 (+0.2%) in December. The number of payroll jobs grew the most in construction, educational services and professional, scientific and technical services. In December, there were fewer payroll employees working in retail trade and administrative and support services.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of non-farm payroll employees rose by 206,400 (+1.3%). The largest gains were in health care and social assistance (+61,000 or +3.3%), accommodation and food services (+29,900 or +2.4%) and public administration (+25,200 or +2.4%).

Over the same period, there were decreases in payroll jobs in mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction (-12,200 or -6.1%), wholesale trade (-8,100 or -1.0%) and in the "other services" sector (-5,300 or -1.0%).