The chief economist of B.C.’s Central 1 Credit Union expects employment in B.C. to drop two per cent in 2009, a decline of about 40,000 jobs as the world’s economic turmoil continues.

Jobs in construction and retail trades will be the hardest hit, Helmut Pastrick said Thursday.

“The downturn in the housing market is leading to a sharp fall in housing construction this year,” Pastrick said.

“We’re seeing some slowdown in non-residential construction that’s already begun to play out.”

Other job loses will be broad-based, he said, and affect most private-sector industries.

Public-sector and government-funded jobs in fields like health care and education should hold strong and may even post some gains.

Statistics Canada releases its monthly labour force survey Friday. Job losses in December are expected to be between 20,000 and 50,000 across the country. In November, Canada had 71,000 net job losses.

This year, Pastrick said he expects a “substantial increase in unemployment” and anticipates B.C.’s unemployment rate rising to seven per cent, up from 4.9 per cent in November. He expects things will turn around — probably —by 2010.

“It depends on the global economic recession, how soon it ends and the strength of the recovery. Fortunately in 2010 … we have the Winter Olympics that may provide a nice boost, albeit temporary.”