Northeast B.C. employed 36,200 people in February, down 1,100 jobs, although the unemployment rate was too low to report for the third consecutive month, according to recent labour force data.

In January, there were reportedly 37,300 people in the region active in the workforce. In February 2021, the region reported a 4.3 per cent unemployment rate, and 39,700 residents were employed.

According to Statistics Canada, last month’s unemployment data were “suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act.”

The act states that data below 1,500 unemployed people are suppressed “to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data. Consequently, geographic areas whose population is below a certain threshold are not published.”

Over the last year, the rate has been too low to report four times: July 2021, December 2021, January 2022, and February 2022.

The province reported a 4.9 per cent unemployment rate, down 0.2 percentage points compared to January.

On Friday, Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, claims the province created 21,000 new jobs last month, building on the 100,000 jobs created last year. He says this helped B.C. keep one of the lowest rates in Canada, and that it hasn’t been at this level since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People in B.C. have stepped up in a big way to follow public-health direction and to get vaccinated. It’s made a huge difference. Our steady economic recovery is thanks to your resiliency and commitment to the people you serve,” said Kahlon in a statement, noting the province’s announcement Thursday on restrictions being lifted is “the next step toward putting this pandemic behind us.”

“B.C. continues to lead the country in economic recovery, having recovered all jobs lost at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, 84,000 more people are working in B.C. than before the pandemic – the highest job recovery rate in Canada (103.2 per cent).”

Nationally, the jobless rate dropped to 5.5 per cent.

Employment gains in February were most notable in the accommodation and food services (+114,000) and information, culture and recreation (+73,000) industries, according to Stats Can.

Employment increases were widespread across provinces and demographic groups.