Greater Victoria has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada at 3.8 per cent, a level last seen here in 2008.
The number of people working full-time in the capital region moved to 143,400 in March, up from 137,900 in the same month in 2016, Statistics Canada said on Friday. Part-time employment climbed to 46,200 from 41,500 over the same period.
Employers are turning out in force at job fairs in the hopes of hiring workers in sectors ranging from hospitality and technology to construction. The Canadian Coast Guard recently announced a hiring blitz and is using social media to attract staff while a tourism job fair attracted a healthy crowd last weekend at Ogden Point ahead of what is expected to be a record season for visitors.
Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate tightened up from 4.4 per cent in February, Statistics Canada said in its monthly labour report.
Quebec City is in second place nationally at 4.1 per cent, with a third-place tie between Vancouver and Brantford, Ont., at 4.7 per cent.
With an election approaching on May 9, B.C. is holding onto its status as the province with the lowest unemployment rate in Canada. That’s despite the fact it moved to 5.4 per cent in March from 5.1 per cent in February.
“B.C.’s labour market maintained a positive trend through March, but showed mild signs of deceleration with slower employment growth and a slight uplift in the unemployment rate,” said Brian Yu, deputy chief economist at Central 1 Credit Union.
Total provincial employment rose by 0.2 per cent from February. The medium trend forecast “still points to a strong pace of hiring in B.C.,” Yu said.
Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate was last at 3.8 per cent at the end of 2008 when the global financial crisis exploded. The region’s rate had been even lower, at 2.8 per cent, in May of that year, but it began climbing as the recession set in.
Another bright spot in Greater Victoria was the increase in youth (15 to 24 years) employment as numbers rose to 31,100 last month, from 26,200 the year before.
Employment in the age 25-to-54 group climbed to 119,000 from 112,900 year-over-year.
There was a slight drop in the 55-year-old plus category with 38,700 working last month, down from 40,300 a year ago.
Phil Venoit, president of the Vancouver Island and District office of B.C. Building Trades, said the construction sector is becoming stronger all the time. “Things are starting to ramp up around the city, so it is positive,” he said, pointing to major office and multi-family projects that are going up. He is looking forward to the jobs created by the upcoming $765-million sewage treatment plant.
Employment in the capital region’s construction sector rose to 15,600 in March, from 12,100 the same month a year ago — an increase of 28 per cent, a Statistics Canada official said.
Building permits in Greater Victoria in February fell by 37.2 per cent to $77.8 million from 124.7 million in Feb. 2016. However, those figures reflect only what happens in one month, not the overall construction activity underway in a particular region.
Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing experienced a 33 per cent leap in jobs year-over-year to 10,400 from 7,800. Public administration jobs climbed by 26 per cent to 20,800 from 16,500. Business, building and other support services also saw a 26 per cent boost, to 9,600 last month from 7,400.
There were few job categories with major losses. Education dropped by 17 per cent to 12,800 in March, down from 15,400 the same month in 2016.
Greater Victoria’s technology sector has been performing well, although job numbers slipped somewhat year-over-year to 18,100 from 19,600.
The nation’s labour market stayed hot last month, pumping out another 19,400 net jobs — and the vast majority of the new work was full-time, Statistics Canada said.
A quick look at March employment (previous month in parentheses):
Unemployment rate 6.7% (6.6)
Employment rate 61.5% (61.4)
Labour force participation rate 65.9% (65.8)
Number unemployed 1,313,700 (1,286,100)
Number working 18,308,000 (18,288,600)
Youth (15-24) unemployment 12.8% (12.4)
Men (25 plus) unemployment 6.0% (5.9)
Women (25 plus) unemployment 5.4% (5.2)
Newfoundland 14.9% (14.2)
Prince Edward Island 10.1 (10.0)
Nova Scotia 8.6 (8.1)
New Brunswick 8.4 (8.9)
Quebec 6.4 (6.4)
Ontario 6.4 (6.2)
Manitoba 5.5 (5.8)
Saskatchewan 6.0 (6.0)
Alberta 8.4 (8.3)
British Columbia 5.4 (5.1)
St. John’s, N.L. 8.9% (9.1)
Halifax 6.5 (6.1)
Moncton, N.B. 8.0 (8.2)
Saint John, N.B. 6.7 (7.9)
Quebec 4.1 (4.3)
Trois-Rivieres, Que. 6.6 (6.6)
Montreal 6.6 (6.7)
Ottawa 5.0 (5.1)
Kingston, Ont. 6.1 (6.1)
Oshawa, Ont. 6.0 (5.7)
Toronto 7.1 (7.1)
Hamilton, Ont. 5.9 (5.9)
Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont. 5.6 (5.5)
Brantford, Ont. 4.7 (4.2)
London, Ont. 6.0 (6.2)
Windsor, Ont. 5.2 (5.1)
Barrie, Ont. 6.8 (7.2)
Sudbury, Ont. 7.4 (7.9)
Thunder Bay, Ont. 5.8 (6.0)
Winnipeg 6.5 (6.7)
Regina 4.8 (5.2)
Saskatoon 7.5 (7.0)
Calgary 9.3 (9.4)
Edmonton 8.4 (8.3)
Kelowna 6.4 (7.4)
Abbotsford 6.3 (6.1)
Vancouver 4.7 (4.7)
Victoria 3.8 (4.4)