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

Cops For Kids ride wraps in Okanagan

No pomp, no circumstance for end of milestone 20th anniversary fundraising bicycle trip

Former Kelowna cop faces fourth lawsuit alleging sexual assault

Ex-Mountie Brian Mathew Burkett is also separately facing seven charges of breach of trust

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Smoky skies clearing throughout B.C. Interior

Environment Canada expects “widespread” improvement for all affected areas by Sunday

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Squabble over mask policy at LUSH in Kelowna mall

The woman filmed the encounter at LUSH Cosmetics, where wearing a mask in-store is company policy

Province opens ‘middle income’ housing in Kelowna

Prices on the units are $1,300 for a one-bedroom and $1,780 for a two-bedroom, nearing area-average prices

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Reward offered for return of Okanagan puppy

An 11-week-old boxer-mastiff cross pup was allegedly taken from its Kelowna Friday, Sept. 18

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Most Read