According to Statistics Canada, unemployment in the Victoria Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) hit 11 per cent in June 2020. (Black Press Media File)

According to Statistics Canada, unemployment in the Victoria Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) hit 11 per cent in June 2020. (Black Press Media File)

Greater Victoria records highest unemployment in post-war history with 11 per cent

Past peak was 7.8 per cent more than a decade ago, according to South Island Prosperity Partnership

Unemployment in Greater Victoria hit an historic high in June with 11 per cent according to a new report from Statistics Canada which also reveals that unemployment caused by COVID-19 has a distinct sociology.

According to the report, unemployment in Victoria Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) rose 0.9 per cent to 11 per cent in June, a local trend line running to broader trends as both the provincial and national unemployment dropped. British Columbia’s unemployment rate dropped 0.4 per cent to 13 per cent, while the national unemployment rate dropped by 1.4 per cent from a record-high of 13.7 per cent in May.

By way of context, Victoria’s CMA recorded an unemployment rate of 3.4 per cent in February, with the region consistently among the regions with the lowest unemployment rates anywhere in Canada.

“The employment losses resulting from the COVID-19 economic shutdown were unprecedented in their speed and depth,” reads the report. “In just two months, employment fell to 15.7 per cent below pre-COVID February levels.”

By way of historic background, the region’s highest unemployment rate before the current pandemic was 7.4 per cent during the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession that followed, according to the South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP).

(Looking back to the Great Depression in the last century, Rob Gillezeau, assistant professor at the University of Victoria, has since noted that Victoria’s unemployment rate was nearly double the current rate, according to the 1931 census, likely worse in 1932, with the proviso, that he lacks access to that data).

RELATED: COVID-19 pushes unemployment in Greater Victoria beyond 10 per cent

SIPP’s director of economic development, Dallas Gislason, appears especially concerned about the state of the local tourism industry, a key driver of the local economy.

“Of particular concern are the tourism-related indicators since our region has the third-most tourism-related jobs out of Canada’s metro-regions,” he said in a release. “This means we are likely in for a prolonged recession since some of our ‘driving industries will not be able to return to any version of normal until a vaccine or treatment is in place.”

The report from Statistics Canada also underscores that the pandemic has especially hit two sectors hard: accommodation and food services, as well as retail.

While jobs are bouncing backs in those sectors, employment in both industries have remained “well below” pre-COVID-19 February levels. By the week of June 14 to June 20, employment in accommodation and food services was 66.7 per cent of its February level with retail further along in its recovery as June employment hit 88.7 per cent of February levels.

Women, especially those working in low-wage jobs or looking after children during the shut-down, have found it especially hard to re-enter the labour force. Younger workers also continue to find the labour market stacked to their disadvantage.

“In March and April, a disproportionate share of job loss was felt by youth, women and low-paid workers,” the report notes. “[Labour Force Survey] results from May and June indicate that these same groups face a longer path to labour market recovery than others.”

Men, especially high-wage earners, and to a lesser degree, immigrants have found it easier to weather the economic effects to the pandemic, which continues to effect Canadians households. In June, more than one-quarter (28.3 per cent) of Canadians aged 15 to 69 reported receiving some kind of federal income assistance payment since March 15, and more 20 per cent of Canadian households reported having financial difficulties. This last figure marks a small improvement from May, when 22.5 per cent of households reported such difficulties.


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police are searching for Andrew Swanson who was last seen in Victoria April 7 and is wanted on warrants for choking and obstructing police. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police searching for missing man, wanted for choking police

Andrew Swanson, 47, last seen in Victoria April 7

A total of 10 flight exposures have affected the Victoria International Airport in April so far, making it the highest monthly total since the start of the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hits record-breaking number of monthly COVID-19 flight exposures

As of April 21, 10 flight exposures reported for the month

A new round of COVID-19 exposures has been reported at Dunsmuir Middle School, with potential exposure dates on April 7 to 15. (Google Streetview/Screenshot)
New COVID-19 exposures reported at Colwood middle school

People may bave been exposed on April 7 to 15

It’s time to upgrade Metchosin’s connectivity, some residents are saying. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)
Petition signals desire for Metchosin cellphone coverage

It’s crazy for a Victoria suburb to be a dead-cell zone, petition writer said

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read