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Cohen said the March figures released Thursday (April 9) are already out of date, because many more layoffs and unemployment claims would have been been filed in April.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

Severe storm warning remains in effect for the Kootenays

Two special weather statements have been issued for the West Kootenay

Update: Suspect in Montrose gas station stabbing new to the area

Police say the 30-year-old suspect stabbed a Montrose gas station employee

‘I knew what he wanted’: Man recalls black bear chasing him up tree in Slocan Valley

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

RDKB launches survey to address housing needs in the district

Communities in the district include Trail, Grand Forks, Rossland and Fruitvale

No passenger flights at West Kootenay Regional Airport until at least September

This is the third time Air Canada has announced changes to flight operations out of the airport

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

B.C.’s Central Kootenay region declares state of emergency, issues evacuation orders

The evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Most Read