B.C. economy rebounds to near pre-pandemic levels, adding 26,600 jobs in February

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Businesses boarded up on Robson street in Vancouver, British Columbia in March, 2020, when businesses were forced to close down at the start of the pandemic. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Businesses boarded up on Robson street in Vancouver, British Columbia in March, 2020, when businesses were forced to close down at the start of the pandemic. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

New Statistics Canada numbers show British Columbia's economy is nearly as strong as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down.

Overall, the Canadian economy added 259,000 jobs in February, to which our province contributed nearly 10 per cent, according to the latest Labour Force Survey for February 2021.

"B.C. added 26,600 jobs, with the majority of those jobs going to women," said Ravi Kahlon, the minister of jobs, economy recovery and innovation.

B.C.'s unemployment rate dropped to 6.9 per cent in February from eight per cent in January.

Tech, professional and scientific services gains

Some of the province's biggest gains were in professional, technical and scientific services in the month of February, the numbers show.

The number of people working in those industries was 5.6 per cent higher nationally than a year earlier, adding about 86,000 people working in jobs such as accounting, advertising and information technology, nearly all of which Statistics Canada attributes to gains in British Columbia and Ontario.

"One year into the pandemic, British Columbia has returned to 99.4% of pre-pandemic employment levels, and B.C.'s economy remains one of the strongest in Canada, having created jobs in each of the past 10 months," the minister added.

Nationally, the survey shows the economy lost almost 213,000 jobs in January this year as added lockdown measures erased months of gains,and marked the worst monthly declines since last April.

February's survey shows the gains now leave the country 599,100 jobs short of where it was in February of last year or 3.1 per cent below national pre-pandemic levels.

It also shows the employment increase in February was virtually all in part-time work and largely in retail trade and educational services.

"The pandemic has affected every British Columbian, but we recognize that some people and businesses have been impacted more severely than others," Kahlon said. "Specifically, people of colour continue to experience higher rates of unemployment," he said.