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Regional unemployment figures rise, but improve overall

·2 min read

The Kootenay region went from one of the hardest hit areas for unemployment one year ago to dropping to nearly one third of that rate, according to recent labour force statistics.

Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey for August 2021 revealed that the Kootenay region — including Nelson, Castlegar, Trail and the Slocan Valley — improved its unemployment rate from a high of 15.8 per cent in June, 2020 at the height of the pandemic to a recent figure of 6.7 per cent.

The job gains, both regionally and provincially, were attained amongst women and were nearly all full time jobs. Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, said there was a total of 14,400 jobs gained throughout the province in August, with 13,600 of these jobs going to women.

“B.C. has one of the lowest unemployment rates and a job recovery rate of 101.1 per cent, leading Canada as the only province with employment above pre-pandemic levels for the third straight month,” he said in a statement on the unemployment numbers.

The Kootenay region had the fourth highest job recovery rate in the province at 102.8 per cent.

In August it was reported that 79,900 people were employed in the Kootenay region, down from July at 81,800. The region reached a peak of employment in June at 83,700.

The employment rate (employment/population ratio) is the number of employed people, expressed as a percentage of the population 15 years of age and over. The employment rate for a particular group (age, sex, marital status, etc.) is the employment for that group expressed as a percentage of the population for that group.

As well, the unemployment rate had risen in August in the Kootenay region, from a 2021 low of 5.6 per cent in June — and 5.8 per cent in July. From a high of 7.2 per cent in January to the end of August the average unemployment rate for the Kootenay region is 6.5 per cent, lower than the provincial average at 7.1 per cent.

In August B.C. had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation at 7.2 per cent, second to only Quebec (6.3 per cent). Saskatchewan and Manitoba were both close behind at 7.3 per cent.

Kahlon noted the province will be investing $95 million in skills training, employment services and supports for more than 9,000 British Columbians to provide people with the opportunity to build long-lasting careers.

“This investment in training will translate into businesses having access to the skilled workers they need to thrive and grow,” he said.

Further reading

• Stronger BC: BC's Economic Recovery Plan: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/

Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Nelson Daily

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