(Minister of Finance, Carole James)

Statistics Canada has released their monthly labour force survey results showing a promising growth in the economy as pandemic restrictions start to ease across the country.

In British Columbia, over 118,000 people were able to find employment in June which indicated a 5.4 per cent increase in the employment rate last month.

According to Minister of Finance Carole James, the overall gains in employment in May and June brings back about 40 per cent of total job losses in the province since February.

The unemployment rate in B.C. has also decreased slightly from 13.4 per cent in May to 13 per cent in June. James says the unemployment rate remains high as B.C. residents continue to look for work.

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One of the major challenges remains the youth unemployment rate which stands at a whopping 29.1 per cent.

However James says around 45,000 young people in B.C. did find jobs last month, and others continue to search for employment. More young people starting to search for jobs is one factor in driving up the youth unemployment rate.

“It’s a positive sign as well that they have confidence that they’ll be able to find work and they’re entering back into the work force,” she said at a press briefing on Friday.

The service sector continues to be the industry that has been hit hardest by the pandemic, but there’s good news on that front as well.

As more people re-enter the work force, employment in the accommodation and food services sector has accounted for about 50 per cent of jobs that were created or brought back last month.

According to James, this growth can be attributed to British Columbians stepping up to the plate and shopping local in order to support their economy in the absence of tourists.

In British Columbia, around 600,000 people accessed received the $1,000 Emergency Benefit for Workers that was created for those who lost jobs during the pandemic, and many accessed the rental subsidy and other benefits that were created during that time.

James says the Ministry of Finance will be providing an updated deficit forecast next week.

“The best start we can have for our economy is making sure that we continue to fight COVID-19 and that’s a huge appreciation and thank you to all British Columbians who have done an exceptional job,” she added.

Meanwhile, across Canada, around 953,000 people went back to work or found new jobs in June and then unemployment rate dropped from 13.7 per cent in May to 12.3 per cent last month.

Employment rates increased in all provinces, although B.C. still lags behind Ontario and Quebec on that front.