B.C. job growth confined to southwest
B.C. continued to lead the country in job creation at the end of 2016, but the gains were confined to the Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island.
Statistics Canada data show B.C.'s unemployment rate fell to 5.8 per cent in December, down from 6.1 per cent in November. December estimates show a net increase of 17,000 jobs, while the number of job seekers rose by 9,100.
Full-time jobs rose 2,100 compared to November, along with new 14,900 part-time jobs. Full-time employment fell 3,700 for young workers aged 15 to 24, but rose for older workers.
B.C.'s unemployment rate remained the lowest in Canada in December, followed by Manitoba at 6.3 per cent and Ontario at 6.4 per cent. Alberta, long the national leader, has fallen to seventh lowest at 8.5 per cent unemployment.
But the job gains are largely confined to the Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria areas, according to an analysis by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. It shows all other regions of B.C. lost jobs in 2016.
"The Metro Vancouver urban area is home to the vast majority of all net new jobs created in the province in 2016, 83 per cent," the CCPA report states. "The broader Lower Mainland-Southwest region of B.C. which includes the Fraser Valley, Squamish, Whistler and the Sunshine Coast, is home to 94 per cent of B.C.'s net job growth.
"The only other economic region that saw net job creation last year is Vancouver Island-Coast, which gained just over 9,000 jobs – two thirds of them in Greater Victoria."
In a year-end statement, B.C. Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Minister Shirley Bond said B.C. is expected to continue its nation-leading job creation performance in 2017. The ministry cited forecasts by major banks and the Conference Board of Canada, as well as a Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimate that B.C.'s private sector job vacancy rate is the highest among provinces at 3.5 per cent.