Feb 6, 2009

About that unemployment rate


A couple days ago I was musing about big job losses on the horizon. Today, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that total employment has only dropped by 1.7% between Jan 2008 and Jan 2009. The bad news is that total unemployment surged by 50% over the same period.

OK, who am I kidding. It’s all bad news. In one month, BC’s unemployment rate jumped by almost a full percentage point. The January unemployment rate was 6.1%, up from 5.3% in December and 4.1% a year ago.

While my thoughts the other day were on the construction sector, job losses in January were widespread. About 10,000 lost in construction, putting it on pace to lose my speculated 100,000, but big hits to other areas of the goods-producing sector of the economy, including about 18,000 losses in manufacturing. Services were a mixed bag, with losses in trade and transport, but some gains in the public sector.

Today’s job report should be a wake-up call for the BC government, now deep into budget planning. The danger is that the BC budget will do too little, not too much. Spend, or face the consequences.

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