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Cohen said the March figures released Thursday (April 9) are already out of date, because many more layoffs and unemployment claims would have been been filed in April.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

Chilliwack trustee removed from committees, district invites

Barry Neufeld’s censure involves four forms of reprimand due to recent Facebook post

Chilliwack RCMP support Special Olympics athletes

This year’s torch run aiming to raise $30,000 for B.C.’s athletes

FVRD activates its emergency operations centre to monitor Fraser River levels

FVRD activates its emergency operations centre to monitor Fraser River levels

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Body of Maple Ridge man recovered near Harrison Lake

21-year-old last seen on May 16 when he fell into Silver Creek

B.C. retirement home creates innovative ‘meet-up’ unit for elderly to see family face-to-face

Innovative ‘purpose-built’ unit keeps residents safe when seeing family for first time since COVID-19

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Fraser Valley libraries to offer contactless hold pick-ups

FVRL Express — Click, Pick, Go service to be offered at all 25 locations starting June 1

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

United Way allocating $6.6M in federal funding to help with food security, youth mental health

Applications from Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland charities being accepted for the emergency funding

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

Most Read