Employment recovery in city slow

The city's unemployment rate decreased slightly last month, but remained well above pre-pandemic levels.

On Friday, Statistics Canada reported the city's unemployment rate in June was 10.7 per cent, down from the peak of 11.8 per cent seen in May, but still above the 10.1 per cent reported for April. In January and February, before the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the city, the unemployment rate was 7.6 to 7.7 per cent.

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In June 2019, the city's unemployment rate was 4.2 per cent – less than half the rate in June this year.

Prince George continued to have stronger employment numbers than the province as a whole. B.C.'s unemployment rate stood at 13 per cent in June, down from 13.4 per cent in May.

"While these numbers are encouraging, the road ahead is a challenging one, as total job losses since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic remain at 235,000," Finance Minister Carole James said in a statement issued Friday. "Women are more likely to have lost their job due to COVID-19 than men, and youth unemployment remains high at a staggering 29 (per cent). However, the significant number of youth who entered the labour force in June is a sign of growing confidence that people can return to work safely."

The unemployment rate may not reflect the full loss of employment in the city. There were nearly 10,000 fewer people working in the city in June 2020 than in June 2019 – 41,900 people working in 2020, compared to 51,800 in 2019.

The city's participation rate – the percentage of working-age people working or actively seeking work – dropped from 74.3 per cent in June 2019 to 63.9 per cent last month.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged and changed our province. Thousands of families, young people and businesses continue to struggle to make ends meet. That's why it was essential that we acted quickly to put supports in place through our COVID-19 Action Plan," James said in the statement. "Our focus on restarting B.C.'s economy in a safe, responsible manner has also been a key contributor to our success in both battling the pandemic and gradually turning our economy around."

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