Unemployment rate drops in B.C.

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — If jobless numbers can be seen as a reliable re-election barometer, then B.C.’s Liberal Government can only hope that what’s happened in April of this year occurs in the same month next year, in advance of the May election.

Even with this area of the province still reeling in the midst of the oil and gas economic downturn, B.C. led the nation last month in employment and posted a nearly one per cent drop in jobless numbers.

Canada’s April jobless report showing B.C. added another 13,000 hires in the month.

That dropped the unemployment rate nearly one percentage point, from 6.5 to 5.8 per cent, which is now the lowest provincial rate in the country, and the only one below six per cent.

It also means that B.C. has now posted a gain of 110,000 jobs over the past year…

The B.C. gains come at a time of great pain in Alberta where low oil prices, which are now compounded by the major wildfire problem, have forced major job losses in the oil patch.

Alberta led the rest of the country in lost jobs again last month with nearly 21,000. It’s jobless rate, which was consistently the lowest among the provinces during oil and gas industry boom times, is now up to 7.2 per cent — the highest among the five provinces west of Quebec.

In fact, it is now higher than national rate which remained stuck in neutral last month at 7.1 per cent, as solid employment gains in the services sector were more than wiped out by losses in the goods-producing industry.

This could also be bad news for the countries so-called have-not-provinces, as the federal government’s primary equalization payment bank in Alberta — the hitherto leading have-province would now appear to be effectively closed.

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