Unemployment in Victoria Census Metropolitan Area defied national trends by dropping to 3.9 per cent in January to remain among the lowest in Canada.
While Statistics Canada shows Canada’s unemployment rate on the rise by 0.5 per cent to 6.5 per cent – the first increase since April 2021’s third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic –Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate actually dropped to remain the lowest in British Columbia among the province’s four census metropolitan areas (CMAs). Nationally, Victoria finds itself tied with Saguenay, Que. and Belleville, Ont. for the third-lowest unemployment rate in Canada. Sherbrooke, Que., with an unemployment rate of 2.8 per cent, led the overall list followed by Quebec City with three per cent.
Across British Columbia, Abbotsford-Mission’s unemployment stood at 5.4 per cent, Vancouver’s at 5.7 per cent and Kelowna’s at 7.2 per cent.
Canada’s rising unemployment reflects the effects of stricter public health measures to stop the spread of the Omicron variant during the reference week of Jan. 9 to 15. This variant also shaped other aspects of employment — namely, absences from work due to any short or long-term health-related reason.
While rates tend to follow a seasonal pattern with a typical peak in the winter, the spread of the Omicron variant across the country has led to record high numbers in terms of absences due to illness or disability in January.
Specifically, one in 10 employees was absent from their job for all or part of the January reference week due to illness or disability, approximately one-third higher than the average observed in the month of January from 2017 to 2019 (7.3 per cent). Prior to January 2022, the highest level of absences due to illness or disability was 8.1 per cent in March 2020.
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