A Remarkable Roller Coaster Ride for B.C.'s Job Market in 2020

September 16, 2020
Ken Peacock


  • Since February the number of people working in the province tumbled by 400,000 in two short months and then jumped significantly over the following three months.
  • Most recently in August, however, re-hiring and job creation slowed to a crawl.
  • Employment in the province is still 150,000 lower than in February of this year, a 6% decline.
  • In the recovery, there has been a rotation toward part-time employment, especially among the harder-hit under 25 cohort.
  • Job losses are widespread across most industries. And the sharp slowing in the pace of re-hiring is also evident across most sectors.
  • In nine of the 15 industries reviewed covering the economy, employment is still down by 5% or more from February levels, with several still having much larger declines.
  • In absolute terms, employment in many B.C. industries is still down by 20,000 or more, and several other industries have job losses of more than 10,000.
  • The review of trends in demographic segments as well as the spectrum of industries confirms the re-hiring process following the end of lockdowns has slowed sharply. The slowdown in overall employment growth and outright downturn in employment in several industries in August warrants attention.
  • We expect employment growth will be weak, choppy and uneven for the remainder of the year and well into 2021. Re-hiring has slowed in most industries and is a key reason for our cautious outlook.
  • We do anticipate some additional re-hiring in a few parts of the economy. But any job gains will be offset to some degree by business closures and restructurings that will unfold over the next year.
  • Challenges in returning to work related to daycare or transportation issues will also weigh on job creation. The overall policy environment and relatively generous income supports from the federal government will also skew the incentives to return to work and dampen job growth.

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