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B.C. unemployment rate hits 13.4% in May, even though 43,300 jobs added

Click to play video: 'B.C. sees record unemployment in May amid COVID-19' B.C. sees record unemployment in May amid COVID-19
B.C. sees record unemployment in May amid COVID-19 – Jun 5, 2020

After two straight months of record-breaking employment loss, the B.C. economy has gained 43,300 jobs.

But with more people in the workforce, the jobless rate has still climbed to 13.4 per cent province-wide.

“The May labour force numbers show some encouraging signs amid a continuing volatile labour market across every sector and in all regions of British Columbia due to COVID-19,” Finance Minister Carole James said on Friday.

“We are beginning to see some glimmers in increased confidence, but we also know we have a long road in front of us.”

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B.C. has shed more than 353,000 jobs since the pandemic started.

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The losses are hitting young people particularly hard. According to Statistics Canada data released on Friday, youth unemployment has hit 28.9 per cent.

These losses stem mainly from the retail, accommodation and food-service sectors. Not only are those industries the hardest hit for young people, they are also the hardest hit overall.

Since COVID-19 restrictions set in, 115,000 jobs among young people have disappeared in B.C.

“Those numbers are families, are individuals, are small businesses who have struggled and continue to struggle,” James said.

“It touches the huge number of job losses in this period. But it does show we are starting to show some confidence. Some confidence in the economy. People are seeing there are some opportunities for them.”

READ MORE: Canada’s unemployment rate reaches record 13.7%

She said it’s too early to unveil a full economic recovery plan yet considering the impacts. The government has earmarked $1.5 billion for spending to help boost the economy.

The province is still evaluating the data to better understand what sectors will have short-term impacts and which will be longer-term.

“We will need to look to the future to how we provide support for youth through job training and other areas to really be able to see our economy recover,” James said.

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BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson says the government needs to develop a long-term plan to ensure B.C. can bounce back.

“The unemployment rate in British Columbia shows just how devastating COVID-19 has been on the people of B.C. We are facing a huge recovery challenge that’s going to need bold and brave action,” Wilkinson said.

“We know at least 300,000 British Columbians are looking for work, which is why a plan is needed now. ”

Nationally, Statistics Canada reported a record high unemployment rate as the economy added 289,600 jobs in May, with businesses reopening as authorities eased public health restrictions linked to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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The unemployment rate rose to 13.7 per cent, topping the previous high of 13.1 per cent set in December 1982 in more than four decades of comparable data.

READ MORE: Commercial rent relief plan gave businesses hope, but landlords reluctant to participate

– with files from The Canadian Press

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