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Prince George unemployment rate rises, Canada loses more than 1M jobs for March due to COVID-19

B.C. also suffers a large loss as pandemic strikes
(via Getty Images)

The numbers may be surprising but the worst is yet to come. 

Statistics Canada released the labour numbers for March today (April 9) and they aren't pretty. 

The organization also emphasized in its monthly release that its Labour Force Survey was conducted March 15-21 — before much of the pandemic’s impact on the job market had been realized.

Prince George rose to 8.8 in March compared to 7.8  per cent in February. 

The official data shows B.C.’s unemployment rate climbed 2.2 percentage points to reach 7.2 per cent in March due to 132,000 jobs lost. 

Meanwhile, Canada as a whole lost 1,011,000 jobs (or -5.3 per cent), driving the unemployment rate up 2.2 percentage points to reach 7.8 per cent.

This was the largest one-month increase on record and brought the rate to a level last observed in October 2010.

Stats Canada also adds the employment decline in March was larger than in any of three significant recessions experienced since 1980.

The federal government revealed Wednesday that 4.26 million Canadians have applied for various forms of emergency of unemployment assistance, be it through Employment Insurance or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

“To put this loss into perspective, more than three years of job gains were erased in a single month, as we last saw this level of employment in late 2016,” BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said in a note to investors, referring to the national numbers.

The actual numbers for March, which won’t become clear until next month, are grimmer than what Statistics Canada’s data can reflect based on the period its survey was conducted.

Ontario lost 403,000 (+2.1 per cent to 7.6) jobs while Quebec dropped 264,000 (+3.6 per cent to 8.1).  Alberta also saw a large decline of 117,000. 

Employment decreased more sharply in March among employees in the private sector (-830,200 or -6.7 per cent) than in the public sector (-144,600 or -3.7 per cent ).

- with files from Tyler Orton, Business In Vancouver