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

Drivesmart column: Are slow drivers breaking the law?

When I am behind a driver that is going slower it bothers me.

Flashback: Trips around the lake, to Japan, and on a dangerous highway

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old… Continue reading

Cowichan’s 49ers just miss fourth Grover Cup

Since the 49ers were founded, the team had never lost a Tony Grover Cup final

Mary Lowther column: Contemplating the compost heap

David made me a three-bin compost system

Sarah Simpson Column: Mistakes will happen but kindness prevails

You know those jerks who always follow the trail directions wrong? I… Continue reading

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Most Read