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Greater Victoria among the tightest labour markets in Canada

Only jurisdictions in Quebec, Ontario have lower rates than Greater Victoria’s 3.9 per cent
Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate was 3.9 per cent in December 2021, down 0.1 per cent compared to November 2021, according to Statistics Canada. (Black Press Media file photo)

Unemployment in Victoria Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) dropped by 0.1 to 3.9 per cent in December, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.

The new figure confirms Greater Victoria’s status as one of the tightest labour markets in Canada. Only a trio of CMAs in Quebec and Ontario recorded lower unemployment numbers than Victoria, led by Quebec City with an unemployment rate of 2.6 per cent, followed by Sherbrooke (3.3 per cent) and Saguenay (3.6 per cent). Other eastern CMA with unemployment numbers around or just below include Guelph (3.9 per cent) and Ottawa–Gatineau (4.1 per cent).

The three other CMAs in British Columbia — Vancouver, Abbotsford-Mission, and Kelowna — recorded respective rates of 5.7, 7.4 and 5.1 per cent. The provincial unemployment rate stood at 5.3 per cent (down 0.3 per cent) and the overall employment rate in Canada was 5.9 per cent – little changed from November 2021 and slightly above the pre-pandemic level of 5.7 per cent in February 2020.

But if numbers point toward a superficial return to pre-pandemic levels, a closer look reveals a different labour market.

From December 2019 to December 2021, employment in sales and services occupations fell by 273,000 jobs – down six per cent. No other major occupational group experienced a large decline, according to Statistics Canada.

RELATED: Statistics Canada says economy added 55,000 jobs in December, unemployment rate 5.9%

Accommodations is one sub-sector where labour shortages appear especially prominent as sector employment remains some 16 per cent below pre-pandemic levels. While pandemic-related travel restrictions decreased employment in that sector, employers are nonetheless struggling to fill job openings.

In the wake of what economists call ‘the Great Resignation,’ many have left the service sector in the search for safer and higher-paying jobs in other, more pandemic-proof industries.

Another fundamental factor favouring workers concerns demographics. Canada’s aging society means fewer younger people will be entering the workforce, thus giving available workers more leverage with correctives to current labour shortages such as increased immigration and automation only able to offer partial compensation.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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