THE PROVINCE needs to do more to provide job skills for northwestern residents, acknowledges jobs minister Pat Bell.
He made the comment following the release of September jobless figures for the northwest which show the rate, while slightly improved from August’s 11.8 per cent and July’s 12.2 per cent remains in the double digits at 10.5 per cent.
Bell’s been promising for several months to get his officials to find out why, in the face of an improving regional economy, the jobless rate remains not only high, but the highest in the province.
He once suspected there might be anomalies or oddities in the way the jobless numbers, which are based on interviews conducted by Statistics Canada, are represented, noting the jobless percentage is based on a small sample size being taken in the region.
“While it is a big [jobless] number, we have to be a little cautious,” said Bell.
Jobless stats elsewhere are derived from places where the population is at least 50,000, he said. But he drew the line at sending in a team of people to travel the northwest to obtain a more reliable sample size.
Still, Bell said the regional jobless stats do provide indications of economic activity.
And he did key on a comparison which indicated there were 6,400 fewer people working in the region from September 2011 to September 2012.
“We need to do a better job,” Bell said of job training.
Elsewhere in B.C., Bell said he was satisfied with job creation and job activity, noting there was an increase in agriculture workers, hospitality industry workers and those employed in the field of international students.
“We had another reasonably good month,” said Bell of September.
The provincial jobless rate was 6.8 per cent in September, the same percentage as in August. Across the regions, the jobless rate for September was 5.9 per cent on Vancouver Island, 7.1 per cent on the Lower Mainland, 5.2 per cent in the Thompson-Okanagan, 8.8 per cent in the Kootenays, 8.2 per cent in the Cariboo and 4.4 per cent in the northeast.
The figures released each month are not those of people collecting Employment Insurance. They’re the product of Statistics Canada employees interviewing people over the age of 15 and those considering themselves part of the workforce are people with a job or who are looking for work.
People withdraw from the workforce for any number of reasons, not all of which are associated with having a job or not.
Across the country, employment increased for the second consecutive month in September, up 52,000, mainly in full-time work. The unemployment rate rose 0.1 percentage points to 7.4 per cent as more people sought work.