Unemployment in Victoria Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) dropped by 0.1 to 3.9 per cent in December, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.
The new figure confirms Greater Victoria’s status as one of the tightest labour markets in Canada. Only a trio of CMAs in Quebec and Ontario recorded lower unemployment numbers than Victoria, led by Quebec City with an unemployment rate of 2.6 per cent, followed by Sherbrooke (3.3 per cent) and Saguenay (3.6 per cent). Other eastern CMA with unemployment numbers around or just below include Guelph (3.9 per cent) and Ottawa–Gatineau (4.1 per cent).
The three other CMAs in British Columbia — Vancouver, Abbotsford-Mission, and Kelowna — recorded respective rates of 5.7, 7.4 and 5.1 per cent. The provincial unemployment rate stood at 5.3 per cent (down 0.3 per cent) and the overall employment rate in Canada was 5.9 per cent – little changed from November 2021 and slightly above the pre-pandemic level of 5.7 per cent in February 2020.
But if numbers point toward a superficial return to pre-pandemic levels, a closer look reveals a different labour market.
From December 2019 to December 2021, employment in sales and services occupations fell by 273,000 jobs – down six per cent. No other major occupational group experienced a large decline, according to Statistics Canada.
Accommodations is one sub-sector where labour shortages appear especially prominent as sector employment remains some 16 per cent below pre-pandemic levels. While pandemic-related travel restrictions decreased employment in that sector, employers are nonetheless struggling to fill job openings.
In the wake of what economists call ‘the Great Resignation,’ many have left the service sector in the search for safer and higher-paying jobs in other, more pandemic-proof industries.
Another fundamental factor favouring workers concerns demographics. Canada’s aging society means fewer younger people will be entering the workforce, thus giving available workers more leverage with correctives to current labour shortages such as increased immigration and automation only able to offer partial compensation.
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