CPABC: Vancouver Island unemployment down to 6.0% as region nears pre-pandemic employment levels

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DUNCAN, British Columbia, Oct. 28, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- According to the BC Check-Up: Work, an annual report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) on employment trends across the province, the unemployment rate in Vancouver Island & Coast (excluding Greater Victoria) fell to 6.0 per cent in September 2021, down from 9.3 per cent in September 2020.

“As the economy has gradually reopened and rebounded from the 2020 recession, businesses across the Island have been adding to their workforce,” said Woody Hayes, FCPA, FCA. “All told, the region added 5,600 employees over the past year. Still, employment remains just barely above pre-pandemic levels and has lagged behind population growth.”

As of September 2021, total employment across Vancouver Island & Coast (excluding Greater Victoria) reached 211,600, a 2.7 per cent increase compared to September 2020. As a result, the region’s employment nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, down by 300 positions compared to September 2019. However, that lagged significantly behind the working age population growth of 10,200 over the same period.

As a result, the region’s unemployment remains well above the 4.8 per cent set in September 2019. In addition, the region has seen its labour participation decline to 56.1 per cent in September 2021 compared to 57.6 per cent in September 2020.

“While promising to see jobs return to the region, we have also seen a rising number of business owners struggle to find employees, a challenge which has only been augmented by the lower participation rate,” continued Hayes. “The performance also varied widely by industry, with employment gains in the service sector partially offset by a small loss in the goods sector.”

The service sector workforce grew to 166,700 positions in September 2021, a 6,000 gain compared to September 2020. The increase was led by large employment gains in the health care (+18.2 per cent), public administration (+14.0 per cent), and hospitality (+10.5 per cent) industries. Despite the increase over the past year, hospitality employment remained 9.1 per cent lower than in September 2019.

Meanwhile, employment in the goods sector declined by 1.1 per cent over the past year, with recent job losses concentrated in the region’s natural resource industry.

“While the overall picture is much more positive today than last year, it is clear that the economic damage from the 2020 recession has yet to be fully mended,” concluded Hayes. “The way many workplaces operate has also forever changed with the rise in remote work. To help spur our recovery, we should ensure we have the right infrastructure to attract remote workers, lower barriers to joining the workforce such as childcare, and provide skills training for displaced workers in industries facing the greatest labour shortages.”

Vancouver Island & Coast
(Excl Greater Victoria)




Unemployment rate




Employment (1,000s)




Participation rate




To learn more, see Data is from Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, follows a moving three-month average and is not seasonally adjusted. Data derived from Vancouver Island & Coast employment statistics excluding Greater Victoria.

About CPA British Columbia
The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) is the training, governing, and regulatory body for over 38,000 CPA members and 6,000 CPA students. CPABC carries out its primary mission to protect the public by enforcing the highest professional and ethical standards and contributing to the advancement of public policy. CPAs are recognized internationally for bringing superior financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight, and leadership to organizations.

CONTACT: For more information: Vivian Tse, Manager, Communications 604.488.2647

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