Pub patio in Victoria reopens with widely spaced tables, June 2020. B.C.’s summer job recovery is slowing down. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

New B.C. jobs won’t be enough when CERB ends: economist

Unemployment double what it was before COVID-19

Statistics Canada says B.C. gained 15,300 employed people in August, creating a slight drop in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate from 11.1 per cent to 10.7.

While that’s the third month of improvement in a row, it’s less than June and July and making further gains won’t be easy, says Ken Peacock, chief economist for the Business Council of B.C. And the end of the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is going to have an enormous impact.

“If this were normal times, a 15,000 upward movement would be quite good, even kind of strong,” Peacock said in an interview with Black Press Media Sept. 4. “But in this current context, it’s such a dramatic pull-back from the previous couple of months. It speaks to exactly what we’ve been concerned about, that the low-hanging fruit in terms of rehiring has been accomplished, and we’re going to see sluggish job growth from here on out.”

Peacock notes that 1.15 million people in B.C. applied for CERB since it was offered in spring, with few barriers to receiving $2,000 per month to offset lost income during the pandemic.

“That’s 45 per cent of the pre-COVID workforce, so nearly half of all employed people in B.C. at some point have claimed the CERB,” he said. “This is going to force people back to work, but the question is are the jobs going to be there for them.”

RELATED: Trudeau says CERB extension delayed some payments

RELATED: Deferred B.C. sales, carbon and fuel tax due Sept. 30

Statistics Canada’s breakdown by city shows similar gains as the national job picture. Victoria’s unemployment rate went from 11.1 per cent to 10.3, Kelowna’s fell to nine per cent from 10 and Abbotsford-Mission barely moved from 8.3 per cent to 8.2.

CERB was originally to run out at the end of August, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a four-week extension on Aug. 20, with a promise of a transition to a revised program.

The federal government is making Employment Insurance more accessible and available for self-employed people, but it’s nowhere near a replacement for the CERB, Peacock said. And B.C.’s $1.5 billion business relief fund may sound like a lot but it is modest compared to the federal wage support and other pandemic programs that are also due to wind down.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Moth outbreak prompts concerns for forest health

Shuswap entomologist argues looper moth resurgence beneficial to biodiversity

Shuswap MLA opposed to ‘opportunistic’ snap election

Greg Kyllo says fall election would essentially shut down government when it’s needed most

Little Shuswap Lake Band confirms case of COVID-19

Contact tracing underway, Interior Health says no risk to general public

Salmon Arm Council denies girls’ request for crosswalk on Lakeshore Road

City opts for vegetation removal so sight lines will be clearer

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

Interior Health reports four new cases of COVID-19

First hospitalization since mid-August announced

Rail traffic starts moving after 60-car derailment near Hope

Clean up effort ongoing after 60 cars carrying potash crashed along a rail bridge

Spoon-wielding man draws police presence in Penticton

Police say no one was harmed during the incident

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

‘Not criminally responsible’ hearing slated for man convicted of Abbotsford school stabbing

Gabriel Klein was found guilty in March of killing Letisha Reimer, 13, in 2016

Most Read