Greater Victoria is defying national and provincial employment trends as the unemployment rate in December dropped to 5.8 per cent. (Black Press Media File)

Greater Victoria is defying national and provincial employment trends as the unemployment rate in December dropped to 5.8 per cent. (Black Press Media File)

Dropping unemployment rate in Greater Victoria defies national and provincial picture

Broader trends such as high youth unemployment are solidifying

New figures show the unemployment rate in Greater Victoria dropped in December 2020, defying broader national trends.

Victoria Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) recorded an unemployment rate of 5.8 per cent in December, down 0.5 per cent from the preceding month. The national unemployment rate remained at 8.6 per while the provincial rate rose by 0.1 per cent to 7.2 per cent during the same period. Of the four CMAs in British Columbia, Victoria recorded the second-lowest rate, behind Kelowna with a rate of 4.5 per cent but ahead of Vancouver with a rate of 7.4 per cent.

The current picture unfolding against COVID-19 restrictions marks a reversal of recent trends. For the first time since April, employment fell by 63,000. Statistics Canada said in its analysis that job losses were most directly affected by new and continuing public health measures, including accommodation and food services; information, culture and recreation and ‘other services’ which include personal and laundry services

Measures of part-time, self-employment and hours worked also dropped in December.

RELATED: Canadian economy lost 63,000 jobs in Dec., first decline since April

If these figures offer a momentary snapshot of the economic picture, the new figures also show previous trends solidifying.

First, the number of active businesses in September 2020 was 7.2 per cent lower than in February 2020. Second, employment among youth aged 15 to 24 continues to fall behind pre-COVID 19 levels in notable contrast to employment levels for individuals aged 25 to 54, with no group of workers closer to pre-COVID employment levels than this ‘core-aged’ population. Immigrants (especially recent ones) and Indigenous Canadians are also struggling to catch up.

The new analysis also shows that working from home remains prominent in several industries, including professional, scientific and technical services; finance; insurance; real estate; rental and leasing; and public administration. “These industries have the lowest proportions of workers in occupations that typically require close physical proximity to others, and all have regained or surpassed February employment levels,” it reads.

By contrast, the accommodation and food services industry, where work generally requires close physical proximity to others, recorded the lowest share of employees working from home in both April and December.

Overall, the number of people working from home is rising again, after hitting a peak in April (41.6 per cent) and a low in September (25.6 per cent) since the start of the pandemic.

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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

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