Globe and Mail: Young workers in B.C. bear brunt of pandemic job losses

June 8, 2020
Colin Wong


On Friday, Statistics Canada released the results of its latest labour-force survey. There was good news for B.C. – a surprising rebound, with 43,000 new jobs in the period between mid-April and mid-May. That’s just one-10th of the jobs lost earlier this spring, but those new jobs were created before the province began its official restart that allowed many businesses and services to resume operations.

Ken Peacock, chief economist of the Business Council of B.C., said he expects the next monthly labour update will be even better. “It’s going to be another positive, and it has a very good chance of being a bigger number next month, so I take this as a pretty good indication,” he said.

More troubling, he said, was the fine print. The labour survey found that workers between the ages of 15 and 24 are facing unemployment rates of almost 29 per cent – far more than any other age cohort. (The findings were echoed across the country.) That’s worse than in the recession of the early 1980s, where overall unemployment rates were actually higher than they are now.

“Young people tend to work in those sectors that are hard hit," Mr. Peacock said. “They are feeling the pain more than others.” And, he doesn’t expect that pain to end quickly. “The potential for long-term unemployment is something I’m concerned about.”

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