(Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

March job losses just ‘a tiny snapshot’ of full impact of COVID-19: B.C. professor

Some sectors and demographics likely to be hardest hit

At least 132,000 people lost their jobs in B.C. last month, in what some are saying is just the first the blow to employment figures during the pandemic.

B.C.’s unemployment rate rose two per cent to 7.2 per cent, just behind the national rate of 7.8 per cent. Canada-wide, more than one million people lost their jobs in March.

“It’s not surprising but it certainly is alarming. What we’re seeing in only a tiny snapshot,” said Marjorie Griffin Cohen, professor emeritus of political science, gender and sexuality at Simon Fraser University.

Cohen said the March figures released Thursday (April 9) are already out of date, because many more layoffs and unemployment claims would have been been filed in April.

What both the B.C. and Canadian unemployment numbers hide, she said is that unemployment only measures people who are actively looking for work, versus the people who have given up looking for work amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The crisis has also led to bigger layoffs in sectors like the arts, hospitality and recreation, which employ more women, Cohen said.

“That accounts for what’s going on with women’s unemployment,” she added,.

According to Statistics Canada, 298,500 women aged 25 to 54 lost their jobs in Canada, totalling a five per cent drop. For men, that drop was two per cent, or 127,600 individuals. Overall, Cohen said the unemployment rate for men in Canada is 7.1 per cent, while it’s 8.7 per cent for women.

Many of the sectors that employ more women are also less likely to come roaring back, Cohen said. According to Restaurants Canada, 10 per cent of eateries have already closed for good.

“A lot of these service-oriented industries, restaurants, places [more] women tend to be employed… a lot of them will fold if this goes on for a long time,” she said.

“It will tend to be the areas where men are more employed, in the resources sector, that will improve.”

The other demographic at greater risk are minimum wage workers are part-time workers and young people.

“It’s really the low wage workers who are getting it this time… they are in areas that are usually paid poorly anyway,” she said, leading to less savings and less cushion to weather a financial crisis.

The benefits rolled out by the federal government will help, she said, even if ultimately it’s not enough.

“Not many people can live on $2,000 a month,” she said, especially in high cost of living places like Vancouver, Victoria or even Kelowna, especially if COVID-19 is around for the longterm.

“I think nobody is expecting anything approaching normalcy before the fall, if even then,” she said. “Unemployment’s going to grow a lot.”

The wage subsidy, which allows for some COVID-19 impacted companies to qualify up to 75 per cent of their employees’ salaries, could be lifeline, Cohen said.

“It will, particularly for small businesses… the 75 per cent subsidy for wages is enormous incentive to keep people on,” she said. “That may help, if the business can stay open.”

READ MORE: Canada lost 1,011,000 jobs in March, unemployment rate up to 7.8%

READ MORE: It could take 3 years for stock market to recover, says B.C. economist

READ MORE: 132,000 B.C. jobs lost just the start of COVID-19 impact, finance minister says


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronaviruseconomy

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

Just Posted

‘Unusual smell in water’ not a health concern, says City of Abbotsford

Odour is just temporary due to treatment-plant maintenance, city says

‘Agitated’ man pulls out knife on 3 people in Abbotsford

Witnesses sought for incident on Monday night near city hall

Man charged with hit-and-run that killed pedestrian in Abbotsford

Man in his 50s died after being struck by vehicle on Highway 11 in October 2019

Fraser Valley Bandits reflect on 2020 turnaround

Abbotsford-based CEBL team goes from worst to almost first at Summer Series

Vedder River gets reprieve from gravel removal this summer

Applications withdrawn by river management committee and process concluded for 2020

DFO says 5 aggrieved B.C First Nations were consulted on fisheries plan

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations calls response ‘a sham,’ adding DFO never incorporates their views

Friends do ‘amazing’ home makeover for retired police officer

Pitt Meadows RCMP veteran was away getting treatment for PTSD

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Pitt Meadows woman gives birth on in-laws’ driveway

Frédérique Gagnon new son is appropriately named after Norse trickster god

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

UPDATE: Two dead after fishing boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

VIDEO: B.C. community rallies to save snared eagle

Revelstoke climber scales tree to save the raptor

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Most Read