In the 12 months to December 2017, the unemployment rate in British Columbia fell by 1.2 percentage points to 4.6 per cent, the lowest among all provinces. (Black Press file photo)

In the 12 months to December 2017, the unemployment rate in British Columbia fell by 1.2 percentage points to 4.6 per cent, the lowest among all provinces. (Black Press file photo)

Canada’s unemployment reaches historic low

B.C.’s unemployment rate lowest among all provinces

According to Statistics Canada, the country’s unemployment rate followed a downward trend in 2017, decreasing to 5.7 per cent, the lowest since comparable data became available in 1976.

In the 12 months to December 2017, employment increased 2.3 per cent, with nearly all the gains in full-time work.

During the same period, the unemployment rate in British Columbia fell by 1.2 percentage points to 4.6 per cent, the lowest among all provinces.

The province closed out the year with an employment growth rate of 3.4 per cent, similar to that of 2016. The gains in 2017 were almost all in full-time work, and were mainly in health care and social assistance, construction, finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing.

Focus on industries

In the 12 months to December, employment increased by 3.5 per cent in the goods-producing sector, and by two per cent in the services-producing sector.

In the goods-producing sector, employment grew in manufacturing (5.1 per cent), natural resources (4.6 per cent) and construction (3.6 per cent). Employment increases in natural resources in 2017 followed heavy losses recorded over the previous two years (-6.4 per cent in 2015 and -7.3 per cent in 2016).

In the services-producing sector, employment grew in a number of industries, led by transportation and warehousing (6.3 per cent); finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (4.6 per cent); and professional, scientific and technical services (3.8 per cent).

Smaller growth rates were recorded in wholesale and retail trade (2.9 per cent); educational services (2.1 per cent); and health care and social assistance (1.3 per cent).

More workers aged 55 and over

In the 12 months to December, the number of employed people aged 55 and over increased 5.3 per cent, exceeding the rate of population growth for this group (2.9 per cent).

For women aged 55 and over, employment rose 6.3 per cent in 2017 while their population increased 2.8 per cent.

Among men aged 55 and over, employment grew 4.5 per cent in 2017, and the population increased three per cent.

Although people aged 65 and over comprise a smaller share of older workers, their proportion has been increasing over the past decade. This group had the fastest year-over-year rate of employment growth among the major demographic groups in December, rising 7.8 per cent and significantly outpacing its rate of population growth (3.7 per cent).