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B.C. unemployment rate improves to 11.1% in July with boosts in hospitality, tourism

Click to play video 'Unemployment rate drops as B.C. adds more than 70,000 jobs in July' Unemployment rate drops as B.C. adds more than 70,000 jobs in July
With people slowly getting back to work as COVID-19 restrictions ease, the latest B.C. job numbers show signs of improvement and a lower unemployment rate but as Richard Zussman reports, experts say there are still major challenges ahead.

British Columbia’s unemployment rate dropped in July from 13 per cent to 11.1 per cent.

New numbers from Statistics Canada on Friday show 70,200 new jobs were created in B.C. from June to July, the bulk of which were in service and producing industries.

Click to play video 'Unemployment at 11.1% as B.C. adds 70,000 jobs in July' Unemployment at 11.1% as B.C. adds 70,000 jobs in July
Unemployment at 11.1% as B.C. adds 70,000 jobs in July

Those industries accounted for 60,800 new jobs, including 24,100 in accommodation and food services and 24,200 in wholesale and retail.

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Unemployment hit a high of 13.4 per cent in May.

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The restaurant and tourism sector have been especially hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic because of massive travel restrictions and physical-distancing guidelines.

Click to play video 'Finance minister says B.C. needs to address $12.5B deficit ‘together’' Finance minister says B.C. needs to address $12.5B deficit ‘together’
Finance minister says B.C. needs to address $12.5B deficit ‘together’

The hardest hit group has been people ages 15 to 24, where the unemployment rate hit 29.1 per cent in June, then slid to 24.1 per cent in July.

In Metro Vancouver, the jobless rate decreased from 14.2 per cent in June to 11.6 per cent last month.

About three weeks ago, Finance Minister Carole James gave the public its first look at the state of provincial coffers since the start of the pandemic.

She revealed an expected deficit of $12.5 billion, mostly due to massive reductions in retail sales, corporate profits, and tax revenues.

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Since July 2019, the province has seen a net loss of 192,200 jobs.