BY BILL PHILLIPS
The British Columbia economy added 12,000 jobs in May, according to Statistics Canada numbers released Friday, and that news prompted local MLAs to tout the Liberals’ Jobs Plan once again.
“B.C. continues to lead the country in employment and job creation – something that’s only possible because our government has made economic growth and a diversified economy a priority. We had a plan and stuck to it,” said Jobs Minister Shirley Bond, in a press release. “There’s more work to do to ensure that British Columbia maintains its leadership role in the country and the current uncertainty will undoubtedly make this much more challenging.”
However, we’re likely to hear less, if anything, about the Liberal Jobs Plan as the NDP prepare to likely form a minority government.
Compared with May 2016, employment in the province grew by 99,000 (+4.2 per cent), mostly the result of gains in full-time work, according to StatsCan. The unemployment rate in British Columbia was little changed at 5.6 per cent in May.
“With economic uncertainty all around us, I want northern families to know that I will fight for them and the jobs they depend on,” said Solicitor General Mike Morris. “As someone who has spent the majority of my life and career in the North, I understand the need for effective representation in Victoria – and I will continue to be that voice.”
The Liberal press release claims the province has added 250,000 jobs since the creation of the Jobs Plan. However, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, most of those jobs have been created in the Lower Mainland and Victoria.
“Communities in the Interior and the North of the province – Thompson-Okanagan, the Cariboo, Kootenays, North Coast/Nechako and the Northeast – saw net job losses last year. For many of these regions, these job losses came on the heels of hard times – they were hit particularly hard by the recession, after already struggling with the decline in forestry jobs,” wrote Iglika Ivanova and Seth Klein in a January report. “An increase in commodity prices post-recession and the B.C. government’s 2011 Jobs Plan were supposed to breathe life into the more rural regions of our province, but this largely did not happen. Despite a brief boost in jobs and economic activity in the Cariboo and the northeast, most B.C. regions have not yet recovered the jobs lost in the recession seven years ago.”
Nationwide, in May, employment among youth aged 15 to 24 rose by 28,000, the result of full-time gains, largely in Ontario and British Columbia. This was the first notable increase for youth since October 2016. The youth unemployment rate was little changed in May at 12 per cent, as more young people participated in the labour market. Compared with 12 months earlier, youth employment increased by 2.7 per cent (+64,000), the fastest year-over-year growth since February 2013. This year-over-year gain was mostly in part-time work. Over the same 12-month period, the youth population declined by 0.9 per cent (-38,000), continuing a downward trend.
Employment for men aged 25 to 54 rose by 25,000 in May, the third notable monthly increase so far in 2017. The unemployment rate for men in this age group fell by 0.3 percentage points to 5.8 per cent. On a year-over-year basis, employment for men aged 25 to 54 rose by 96,000 (+1.5 per cent), with increases evenly distributed between full- and part-time work.
For women aged 25 to 54, employment held steady in May and their unemployment rate was 5.3 per cent. In the 12 months to May, employment for this group of women rose by 61,000 (+1.1 per cent), the result of gains in full-time work.
Among people aged 55 and older, employment was little changed in May, while their unemployment rate rose by 0.4 percentage points to 6.0 per cent as more people in this age group searched for work. On a year-over-year basis, more people aged 55 and older were working (+96,000 or +2.6 per cent), largely the result of the continued transition of the baby-boom cohort into this older age group.