Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate rose slightly last month to 11 per cent as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Data from Statistics Canada labour force survey shows an increase of 0.9 per cent since May, when the rate was 10.1 per cent.
Eight hundred people lost their jobs in the capital region, as the number of people employed dropped from 179,200 in May to 178,400 in June.
“It’s tough out there,” said Michael Lane, community engagement manager at WorkBC. “Going back the last three, four years, we had employers calling us daily from every industry — hospitality, tourism, government, construction — everyone was looking for workers in Victoria.”
The unemployment rate in February, before businesses had to close their doors due to the pandemic, was 3.4 per cent.
“We’ve more than doubled the number of people out there who don’t have employment right now and that is dramatic and horrifying,” Lane said. “It’s just such a dramatic and significant shift in the way Victoria has been for unemployment in the last 3 or 4 years.”
Now that B.C. is in phase three of its restart plan, the economy is starting up again. Many businesses have resumed operations and cities like Victoria have increased patio space for restaurants to encourage physical distancing. As people’s comfort level rises, Lane said, so will the job opportunities.
“A restaurant that can now seat a few more people on an outdoor patio can afford to bring back people or hire new [employees],” he explained.
Province-wide, the unemployment rate fell by 0.4 per cent, down to 13 per cent in June. More than 118,000 people found jobs and 40 per cent of the jobs lost since February have been recovered.
“We’ve proven that flattening the curve is good for the economy,” said Bruce Williams, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. “We’re not back to the unemployment numbers that we were before…. but it does mean that we are embracing the ability to move forward to restart the economy.”