B.C. adds 12,300 jobs in September as return to classrooms drives growth

Most of the province’s gains stemming from educational services

A classroom in Vancouver | Getty Images/Compassionate Eye Foundation/Steven Errico

Last month’s return to classrooms delivered big gains to the labour market, with B.C. adding 12,300 jobs in September.

The unemployment rate fell 0.3 percent points compared with August to land at 5.9%, according to new Statistics Canada data.

“British Columbia was the lone province with employment notably above its pre-pandemic level,” the national statistics agency said in its Friday report.

The country as a whole added 157,000 jobs in September while Canada’s unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentages points to 6.9%.

The latest national data represents the first time Canada has fully recouped the three million jobs lost at the outset of the pandemic in spring 2020.

And those national gains were led by women last month with another 99,700 jobs added after that demographic suffered disproportionate losses during the course of the pandemic.

“Just because employment has now returned to pre-pandemic levels does not mean that labour markets have recovered,” RBC senior economist Nathan Janzen said in a note.

“The unemployment rate is still more than a percentage point above February 2020 levels. Employment in higher-contact service sectors is still running more than 200k below pre-shock levels, even as government support programs begin to unwind.”

The province, meanwhile, made substantial gains in public administration (+9,000 jobs), while sectors such as healthcare (-13,800 jobs) and wholesale/retail (-3,400 jobs) experienced notable losses.

Vaccine mandates go into effect for B.C. health-care workers later this month, raising questions over whether more attrition might be ahead.

Government support programs such as the Canada Recovery Benefit expire at the end of October, “which could lead to more people rejoining the workforce in October, that is, unless it is extended,” TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam said in a note.