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Pandemic cost Surrey 25,000 jobs since February

Surrey Board of Trade’s latest labour market intelligence report released Friday

Roughly 25,000 jobs have been lost in Surrey since February, according to the Surrey Board of Trade’s latest labour market intelligence report.

“While Surrey has recovered over an estimated 12,000 jobs from July to September, the pandemic still leaves the Surrey economy with 25,000 fewer jobs than in February 2020,” said Anita Huberman, CEO of the board.

That’s 8.5 per cent of Surrey’s workforce. Most of the jobs were lost in March and April, with more lost – though at a slower rate – in May and July. According to the report, a similar number of jobs were recovered in August and September.

Surrey’s greatest employment losses, by occupation, were in sales and services, education, law, as well as social, community and government services, and trades, transport and equipment operators. While natural resources and agricultural businesses in Surrey saw more than 1,000 jobs lost in August and September, together they recorded an overall gain of nearly 34 per cent since February.

Across Canada, industries hardest hit by the pandemic, in which most businesses laid off 50 per cent or more of their staff were – remarkably – in health care and social assistance, as well as accommodation and food services, arts, entertainment and recreation, administration and support, waste management and remediation services. The finance and insurance sectors saw the fewest number of layoffs.

Businesses owned in majority by First Nations, Metis or Inuit doubled the Canadian average of businesses that laid off more than half of their staff.

People most impacted by the pandemic, according to the report, have been female employees and non-unionized workers with the greatest job losses, by age, suffered by 15 to 24-year-olds. British Columbian men have also experienced more job loss than elsewhere in Canada.

But there is a bright side, Huberman says.

“Economically and in comparison to other Metro Vancouver cities and regions, Surrey will weather the pandemic’s storm as we see some industries and some job categories actually having a higher level of employment than in pre-pandemic times,” she said.

Those industries actually recording a higher level of employment now than in February are utilities (up 61 per cent in Surrey), natural resources (up by over 19 per cent as an industry in Surrey) and manufacturing, up by more than 20 per cent.

Moreover, women in B.C. are faring better than elsewhere in Canada, with a significant increase of jobs – by 26 per cent – in the goods-producing sector.


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