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How can there be a labour shortage?
Between 2014 and 2021, the number of people employed grew by over 50,700 while the labour force grew by ONLY 47,200. This means fewer people are unemployed and available to fill vacant positions.
Increased migration of people under age 50 to Vancouver Island has had a significant impact on the labour force. After being relatively stable for almost a decade, the number of people in the labour force (i.e., available for work) grew by approximately 40,000 between 2014 and 2019.1 Over the same period, the number of people employed grew by over 50,000. This led to relatively low unemployment levels.
The COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions, beginning in March 2020, led to an overall decline in employment on Vancouver Island in 2020. However, this was temporary and as restrictions lifted overall employment levels began to rise.
In 2021, overall employment on Vancouver Island was consistent with 2019 levels. However, employment in the sectors most impacted by COVID-19-related restrictions (e.g., hospitality, recreation) remained below 2019 levels. This suggests that the number of job opportunities for people on Vancouver Island has grown and is above pre-pandemic levels. The labour force has also grown; however, indications are that it has not grown as quickly as the number of jobs. This means that there are fewer people unemployed and available to fill vacant positions. As a result, businesses are getting fewer applicants for vacant positions and those that apply may not have the desired qualifications.
1. Statistics Canada. Census 2021 and Census 2016.
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