B.C. loses 16,500 full-time positions in February; unemployment rate climbs

A decline in jobs in the natural resources sector is partially to blame for...

Canada lost 17,000 jobs in the natural resources sector in February | Shutterstock

A decline in jobs in the natural resources sector is partially to blame for the net loss of around 7,000 jobs in British Columbia in February, Statistics Canada announced March 13.

The number of full-time jobs in the province fell by 16,500 in the month. This loss was somwhat offset by a gain of 9,600 part-time positions.

B.C.’s unemployment rate jumped by 0.4 percentage points to 6.0%. This is 0.8 percentage points lower than the national rate of 6.8%.

Resource-sector jobs in B.C. declined by 7,200 in the month, to 47,400 jobs. While much of this decline is attributable to falling oil prices, this drop is even higher than the loss of resource-related jobs in oil-dependent Alberta, which saw a drop of 7,000 resource jobs to 164,900. Since September, employment in the Alberta’s resource sector has fallen 11%, coinciding with sliding crude prices.

Nationally, the number of jobs fell by only 1,000 positions, but more than 49,000 Canadians entered the labour force to look for work, causing the unemployment rate to grow by 0.2 percentage points in the month.

The number of resources jobs fell across the country by 17,000, due mostly to losses in B.C. and Alberta.

Manufacturing jobs dropped by 20,000 in the month; this was the sector’s first decline since August 2014.

The unemployment rate for men across the country was 6.1% – a full percentage point higher than the women’s rate of 5.1%

CIBC Economics’ Nick Exarhos said today’s news did not come as a surprise to analysts.

“At least for February, data on Canadian employment didn’t make fools out of Bay Street economists,” Exarhos said. “The 1k drop in employment wasn’t far from the expected 5k decline.

“We’re likely headed higher [in terms of the unemployment rate] as the blow from oil is more fully felt in Canadian jobs figures, with today’s data release already providing some clues on what to expect in 2015, at least in the provincial breakdown.”

Benjamin Reitzes, senior economist and vice-president economic research for BMO Capital Markets, said today’s news isn’t as bad as expected.

This report isn’t likely to change much from the Bank of Canada’s perspective, but slightly lessens rate cut odds, as the front-loaded weakness Governor Poloz is looking for didn’t quite show up here. Even so, there’s probably more softness ahead with Target’s closing and continued oil patch job losses.

The Canadian dollar reacted to the news by falling almost four tenths of a percent to 78.09 cents U.S. just after the announcement. As of press time, the dollar was trading at 78.15.