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Cohen said the March figures released Thursday (April 9) are already out of date, because many more layoffs and unemployment claims would have been been filed in April.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

City of Duncan, North Cowichan reopening municipal ha

North Cowichan’s municipal hall will reopen on June 15, but for tax payments only.

Preparing to welcome students back to school

It’ll be a short and very different return

Put money into addressing causes of flooding

The real issue is Somenos Creek being totally silted up

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Small businesses in Saltair change with the times

Pandemic creates creative thinking to remain in operation

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

UPDATE: Woman airlifted with serious injuries, baby OK after crash in Nanaimo

Collision happened on Jingle Pot Road in East Wellington on Saturday afternoon

Dump truck in Nanaimo snags power lines, snaps hydro pole, crashes

No injuries in incident Monday morning on Old Victoria Road

Ferry sailings scheduled once again at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay terminal

BC Ferries announces that resumption of service June 3 includes four daily round trips

Island Health signs working agreement to turn former Comox hospital into a ‘dementia village’

Island Health has signed a project development agreement with Providence Living to… Continue reading

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Most Read