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B.C.’s jobs numbers soft, with heavy emphasis on part-time and public sector jobs

KAMLOOPS (March 12, 2021) – Despite a drop in unemployment, the divergence in the labour market’s recovery is evident in today’s jobs numbers released by Statistics Canada.

Beyond the headline figures, British Columbians still have 15,100 fewer jobs compared to pre-pandemic levels, with the majority of employment growth this February coming from part-time positions. These accounted for 84 per cent of the total jobs gained last month, and the public sector increases were ten times larger than the private sector.

The labour underutilization rate — or “hidden unemployment” — a measure that includes involuntary part-time workers and discouraged job seekers, remains high at 11.2 percent. Women continue to suffer disproportionately with a 7.2 per cent unemployment rate compared to 6.7 per cent for men.

“The devil is in the details as broad, sustainable economic recovery can only happen if it’s led by the private sector,” said Todd Stone, BC United Critic for Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “The first step in creating well-paid private sector full-time jobs and helping women regain footing in the labour market must be the immediate creation and implementation of a sector-by-sector jobs plan. John Horgan also needs to bring targeted help tailored to the needs of women, who make up the bulk of the workforce in hard-hit sectors such as tourism.”

Tourism-related sectors are down 40,200 jobs compared to pre-pandemic levels. For an industry that generates $20.5 billion in revenue for B.C., it is unbelievable that the NDP government this week continued to refuse to provide the sector with relief for fixed costs, as recommended by the Tourism Task Force.

“How many more businesses in the tourism industry must shut down before the NDP will be competent enough to ramp up support?” said Teresa Wat, BC United Critic for Tourism, Arts and Culture. “There continues to be significant help needed by this sector, from small family-owned tour agencies to large exhibition venues, all decimated by the pandemic, who won’t be able to stay in business if John Horgan stubbornly continues to ignore their calls for help.”

The NDP’s incompetence is echoed by a report from Canadian Federation of Independent Business, with 88 percent of B.C. businesses asking the provincial government to come up with a specific plan to reopen the economy, and 55 per cent of them saying they require additional support.

“One year into the pandemic, we have a bumbling government with no plan that is just hoping to ‘get lucky’ with the economy. British Columbians need the NDP to design a robust and inclusive economic recovery plan, and take decisive action now,” concluded Stone.

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