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Government hiring buoys region’s healthy employment

A surge in hiring at all levels of government and a steady and diverse economy have combined to maintain Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate as one of the lowest in the country.
Canada lost 24,200 jobs last month and its unemployment rate moved up to 5.7 per cent to give the economy its weakest three-month stretch of job creation since early 2018. A steel worker builds a structure in Ottawa on Monday, March 5, 2018. Even with the July decline, compared to a year earlier, the numbers show Canada added a healthy dose of 353,000 new positions almost all of which were full time. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

A surge in hiring at all levels of government and a steady and diverse economy have combined to maintain Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate as one of the lowest in the country.

According to Statistics Canada’s monthly labour force survey, Victoria’s unemployment rate slipped to 3.8 per cent in July, down from four per cent in June. That ranks it behind only Quebec City (2.8 per cent) for the lowest unemployment rate in Canada.

“Victoria has been pretty steady ... there has been very little change,” said Vincent Ferrao of Statistics Canada. He noted the labour force remained the same at 202,000 workers while there were 194,300 people employed in July and 193,900 employed in June.

The biggest changes year over year were seen in the public administration, retail and wholesale-trade sectors.

Governments added 6,600 workers over the last year in the region for a total of 26,100, while retail trade shed the most jobs with a year-over-year loss of 7,500 jobs to 26,300.

Provincially, B.C. held steady in July and maintained a low unemployment rate of 4.4 per cent. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the province rose by 94,000, or 3.8 per cent, according to the national agency.

Bruce Ralston, minister of jobs, trade and technology, noted B.C. has led the country with the lowest unemployment rate among provinces for two years.

“July’s labour force survey confirms that B.C. has a strong economy, despite uncertainty in the global economy and difficulties in certain sectors,” he said. “This is the longest stretch of lowest continued unemployment among provinces in more than a decade.

“Additionally, B.C. now has the third-highest hourly wage in the country at $27.59 per hour, up nearly a dollar from a year ago.”

According to Statistics Canada, wage growth across Canada accelerated last month to its fastest clip in more than decade.

The country saw a 4.5 per cent burst in average wage rate, despite Canada’s unemployment rate moving up to 5.7 per cent with the loss of 24,200 jobs.

The national labour situation had its weakest three-month stretch since early 2018.

Until the spring pause, Canada had a been on a healthy run of monthly employment gains since last summer.

The survey found the numbers were nearly flat between May and July, a period that saw Canada add an average of 400 jobs per month. The agency cautions, however, that the recent monthly readings have been small enough that they’re within the margin of error and, therefore, statistically insignificant.

The economy lost 69,300 private-sector employee positions last month, while the public sector gained 17,500 jobs.

Alberta, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick posted notable declines in employment last month — and jobless rates moved higher in each of the provinces.

Quebec and Prince Edward Island added jobs last month, the report said.


July employment (numbers from the previous month in parentheses):

Unemployment rate: 5.7 per cent (5.5)

Employment rate: 61.9 per cent (62.1)

Participation rate: 65.6 per cent (65.7)

Number unemployed: 1,149,900 (1,114,400)

Number working: 19,030,400 (19,054,600)

Youth (15-24 years) unemployment rate: 11.4 per cent (10.7)

Men (25 plus) unemployment rate: 5.1 per cent (5.1)

Women (25 plus) unemployment rate: 4.4 per cent (4.2)


Newfoundland12.8 (13.3)

Prince Edward Island 8.4 (9.3)

Nova Scotia 7.4 (6.6)

New Brunswick 8.5 (7.8)

Quebec 4.9 (4.9)

Ontario 5.7 (5.4)

Manitoba 5.8 (5.7)

Saskatchewan 5.4 (5.1)

Alberta 7.0 (6.6)

British Columbia 4.4 (4.5)


St. John’s, N.L. 7.7 (8.1)

Halifax 5.2 (5.2)

Moncton, N.B. 5.7 (6.0)

Saint John, N.B. 6.8 (5.8)

Saguenay, Que. 5.3 (4.6)

Quebec 2.3 (2.4)

Sherbrooke, Que. 4.3 (3.8)

Trois-Rivieres, Que. 5.6 (5.7)

Montreal 5.8 (5.5)

Gatineau, Que. 4.2 (4.7)

Ottawa 5.0 (5.6)

Kingston, Ont. 4.8 (4.6)

Peterborough, Ont. 5.0 (5.3)

Oshawa, Ont. 5.2 (5.1)

Toronto 5.7 (5.9)

Hamilton, Ont. 4.9 (4.8)

St. Catharines-Niagara, Ont. 5.7 (5.7)

Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont. 5.5 (4.8)

Brantford, Ont. 4.5 (4.7)

Guelph, Ont. 5.1 (5.4)

London, Ont. 5.8 (4.9)

Windsor, Ont. 5.9 (5.7)

Barrie, Ont. 5.4 (6.4)

Sudbury, Ont. 5.0 (5.3)

Thunder Bay, Ont. 5.8 (5.4)

Winnipeg 5.4 (5.2)

Regina 5.3 (4.5)

Saskatoon 5.9 (6.0)

Calgary 6.9 (7.0)

Edmonton 7.5 (7.0)

Kelowna 4.3 (4.4)

Abbotsford-Mission 5.5 (5.5)

Vancouver 4.0 (4.0)

Victoria 3.8 (4.0)

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