CPABC: Northwest B.C. sees over one-in-ten summer jobs displaced due to COVID-19 pandemic

Despite strength in manufacturing and construction, natural resource and hospitality weakness drives job loss

SMITHERS, British Columbia, Oct. 29, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- According to the BC Check-Up: Work report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC), Northwest B.C.’s workforce – which encompasses Nechako and the North Coast – was one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The unemployment rate for the region this summer clocked in above 12 per cent, well over twice what we saw last year,” said Jeanne MacNeil, CPA, CA, partner at Edmison Mehr Chartered Professional Accountants. “Thankfully, the region has experienced a bounce back in employment through the summer from the lows seen earlier in the pandemic and that carried into September.”

The number of employed workers in the region fell by 12 per cent in Summer 2020 (June to August) compared to last year, representing a total job loss of 5,200. However, the region saw 1,200 jobs return to the region in September, reducing the annual job loss to 8.4 per cent and the unemployment rate to 9 per cent.

Despite the progress, some industries remain deeply affected. The service sector drove employment declines in the region, with nearly one in every six jobs displaced compared to last September. The hardest hit industry by a significant margin was accommodation and food services, where employment was down by nearly two-thirds, representing a job decline of 3,500 positions.

“The service sector, in particular those industries relying on tourism, travel, and physical interaction, has struggled in the region due to the restrictions put in place to combat COVID-19,” continued MacNeil. “In a typical year, many businesses in these industries rely on summer months to be profitable for the year.”

Meanwhile, goods sector employment experienced a sizeable job gain of 13.2 per cent, driven by manufacturing and construction activity in the region linked to LNG and port infrastructure projects. Employment in construction was up by nearly a third, while manufacturing increased nearly fifty percent, helping bring 2,900 jobs to the region. However, the number of positions in the natural resource industry, which includes forestry, mining and oil/gas, were down by 45.2 per cent to just 1,700 jobs.

“The major infrastructure projects in the region and continued strength in manufacturing helped provide some economic stability,” concluded MacNeil. “However, it is clear Northwest B.C. is not immune to the economic fallout of the pandemic. It is critical that we continue to support workers and businesses, particularly those most harmed by this crisis.”

Northwest B.C.
Unemployment rate (%)54.912.29
Employment (1,000s)43.543.138.339.5
Part-time (1,000s)9.2987.9
Full-time (1,000s)34.434.130.331.6

To learn more, see Data is from Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey. Monthly data follows a moving three-month average and is not seasonally adjusted.

About CPA British Columbia
The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) is the training, governing, and regulatory body for over 37,000 CPA members and 5,000 CPA students. CPABC carries out its primary mission to protect the public by enforcing the highest professional and ethical standards and contributing to the advancement of public policy. CPAs are recognized internationally for bringing superior financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight, and leadership to organizations.


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