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Jobless rate jumps in January for region, but down from one year ago

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
February 13th, 2023

Recent unemployment figures released by Statistics Canada for the West Kootenay region in January are a glass half full, or a glass half empty, depending on your perspective.

The regional jobless rate was recorded at 3.5 per cent for January for this year, which was down from the 5.9 per cent rate recorded one year ago in 2022, but a rise from the 2.9 per cent mark brought about in December, 2022.

Those numbers translated into 2,900 people who reported they were out of work in January, with a population increase of 1,200 to 141,200 — the number of people working increasing by 4,900 to 79,100.

Across the province the job market growth was steady with the addition of 22,000 new full-time jobs in January, while the unemployment rate reached 4.4 per cent. B.C.’s total job growth in January was 7,700, reflecting a loss of part-time positions coming out of the holiday period.

“Building on the 66,200 jobs added in 2022 — including a strong year-over-year increase in private-sector and self-employed jobs (+42,500) — we know that B.C. is well positioned to deal with the global challenges ahead,” said Brenda Bailey, minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation.

She pointed to the creation of long-term value-added jobs to support workers in forest-dependent communities, such as the ones in the West Kootenay, that will invest as much as $90 million in high-value manufacturing projects that will diversify local economies and promote value-added innovation. 

“Our new initiative with BC Timber Sales will provide a dedicated fibre supply to small and medium-sized value-added manufacturers,” said Bailey.

Businesses in rural B.C. communities will also have more support as more funding is now available through the province’s Rural Business and Community Recovery Initiative (RBCRI). The province is providing an additional $4.5 million, which builds on an initial $4.5 million provided in February 2021, which created 90 temporary advisory jobs focused on helping rural communities and businesses recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This new funding will shift from concentrating on pandemic recoveries to supporting economic development in communities affected by changes to the forest sector.

The national unemployment rate held steady at five per cent as employment increased by 150,000. The biggest increases were in wholesale and retail trade, health care and social assistance, and educational services, with a decline in transportation and warehousing.

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