Unemployment in Victoria Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) rose half a per cent to 6.2 per cent in April compared to the previous month.
This figure marked the second straight month that local unemployment had risen after months of steady decline from the summer of 2020 when unemployment peaked at 11.3 per cent in July 2020 against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Months of decline followed, eventually reaching 4.9 per cent in February. But the rate has been rising since, first to 5.7 per cent in March, then 6.2 per cent in April.
While Victoria CMA had previously defied provincial and national trends, the most recent run of figures place the region in line with broader trends, as the respective provincial and national unemployment rates rose to 7.1 per cent and 8.1 per cent.
The figures reflect labour conditions during the period running from April 11 to 17, so well after British Columbia had announced ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions on March 30 to help break the third COVID-19 wave.
As Stats Canada says in an accompanying analysis, the majority of employment losses in April happened in B.C. and Ontario in industries most affected by the recent tightening of public health restrictions, such as retail trade; accommodation and food services; and information, culture and recreation.
As Stats Canada says, employment in those sectors “has risen and fallen” in parallel with the easing and tightening of public health measures. The figures also show 20,000 fewer active businesses in January compared to the same period last year with the largest decline among businesses in accommodation and food services, as well as information, culture, and recreation.
Industries less affected by these restrictions such as professional, scientific and technical services, as well as finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing have seen steady increases in employment numbers, even surpassing pre-pandemic levels. The number of businesses in those sectors has also surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
Looking beyond Greater Victoria, the new figures peg the unemployment on Vancouver Island and the Coast at 7.2 per cent in April 2021, down from 8.4 per cent in April 2020.
Of the three other CMAs in British Columbia, Vancouver’s unemployment rate in April was higher than Victoria’s with 7.4 per cent (down 0.6 per cent), while Kelowna (5.7 per cent, up 0.7 per cent) and Abbotsford-Mission (5.5 per cent, down 0.8 per cent) were lower than Victoria’s.
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