Today’s Poll

Raising its profile: jobless rate in Kootenay region rises above provincial, national rates

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
June 15th, 2023

The unemployment rate for the Kootenay region has been steadily climbing since the start of the year and is now above the provincial and national rates, according to recent figures released by Statistics Canada.

The percentage for known unemployed people in the Kootenay region — which includes West and East Kootenay, as well as Nelson, Castlegar, Trail and Grand Forks — was 5.5 per cent in May, according to Statistics Canada latest figures, up from 4.3 per cent in April.

With one of the lowest rates in the province — 82,600 people were working and 4,800 looking for work out of a population of 142,000 — it rises well above the rate of 3.9 per cent from one year ago.

In April 2022, there were 81,700 working and 3,600 job hunting out of a population of 140,400 for a rate of 4.2 per cent.

At the same time last year the rate was 3.9 per cent with 83,100 working and 3,400 searching out of a population of 140,600.

Across the province the unemployment rate for the last month stayed steady at five per cent — and the same rate from one year previous (five per cent) — while the national unemployment rate rose slightly to 5.2 per cent from five per cent in April.

 Across the province

The provincial economy added 1,400 jobs in May, for a total of 17,800 jobs added in 2023.

“That increase was driven by a gain of 4,300 full-time jobs, including 1,500 in women’s full-time employment,” said Brenda Bailey, minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation, in a press release.

B.C.’s unemployment rate is at five per cent, which is fourth-lowest among all provinces, but above the historic low in winter.

“This means businesses are seeing more applicants for their vacant positions,” said Bailey.

B.C.’s average hourly wage of $34.21 is third-highest in the country, and year-over-year growth of seven per cent leads all large provinces. 

Bailey joined Premier David Eby on a trade mission recently to the Indo-Pacific region, including Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Vietnam.

The trade mission focused on promoting B.C.’s strengths in key sectors, such as clean energy, clean technology, natural resources and critical minerals, information and communications technology, and agrifood.

“The Indo-Pacific is the world’s fastest-growing economic region. This trade mission gave us the opportunity to reaffirm and expand B.C.’s presence in this competitive global environment,” said Bailey.

Still staffing issues

Kootenay businesses that continue to struggle with the high cost of doing business also have the added hurdle of staffing, noted Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Tom Thomson earlier this year.

“(A) lack of qualified employees and a low unemployment rate makes it hard to recruit, coupled with rising labour costs, employee health tax, paid sick days, inflation, cost of borrowing, rising rents, and now the … serious pressures from all levels of government for higher taxes will linger for a while,” he explained.

Overall gains in the national economy show a jump of 41,000 part-time jobs in May, with sectors of the economy such as transportation and warehousing, wholesale and retail, as well as finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing leading the way. There was, however, a decline in employment in business, building and support services.

The number of employees in the private sector grew but there wasn’t much change in public sector employment or the number of self-employed workers.

Categories: General


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