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

Greens, Liberals, NDP field Fraser-Nicola candidates ahead of October election

Incumbent Jackie Tegart has two opposing candidates after snap election called Monday

Work has started on 20 units of seniors’ housing in Clinton

Much-delayed project has been in the works for almost a decade

Cache Creek firefighters plan bigger, better Halloween fireworks

‘With so much uncertainty in the world it’s nice to know that one community event is staying intact’

Volunteers welcome at this year’s Black Powder Desert Rendezvous

Plus farmers’ markets, an art show, a bottle drive, a Fire Prevention Week contest, and more

Ashcroft looks into hiring bylaw officer with Cache Creek, Clinton

Funding available to help communities hire bylaw during COVID-19 state of emergency

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

B.C. Green leader says NDP abandoning environmental plan

Horgan’s claim of unstable government false, Furstenau says

Transgender B.C. brothers debut fantasy novel as author duo Vincent Hunter

‘Transgender people are being misrepresented in popular fiction and media, and we aim to change that’

‘Won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving:’ Trudeau says COVID-19 2nd wave underway

In all, COVID-19 has killed about 9,250 people in Canada

COVID-19 exposure at Merritt pub

The exposure happened on Sept. 19 at the pub of the Coldwater Hotel

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Four more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 31 active cases in isolation in the health region

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Most Read