Northwestern BC jobs picture brightens

Region's jobless rate now nearly half of what it was a year ago

NORTHWESTERN BC now has the third lowest jobless rate of any region in the province, behind only the northeast and the Kootenays, indicates data released today by Statistics Canada.

And at 5.5 per cent for September, the northwest’s rate is than the provincial average of 6.7 per cent.

The jobless rate is also nearly half of Sept. 2012’s 10.5 per cent and an improvement over August’s 6.2 per cent.

The statistics indicate the labour force in the area from the north coast to just this side of Vanderhoof in September was 43,700 people with 41,300 working and 2,400 unemployed.

The labour force in September 2012 was 42,900 people with 38,400 working and 4,500 unemployed.

September’s figures reflect a continuing improvement in the regional economy, much different than even two years ago when the jobless percentage rate was consistently in the low and mid teens, placing the region consistently in last place.

The Lower Mainland had the highest jobless rate of any region in the province in September at 7.1 per cent with the Thompson-Okanagan next at 6.8 per cent and the Cariboo following at 6.5 per cent.

Vancouver Island had a jobless rate of 6.2 per cent with the northeast coming in at 4.9 per cent and Kootenays having the lowest jobless rate in the province at just 3 per cent.

The northwest jobless rate is not the number of people collecting Employment Insurance.

Instead it is based on interviews of people from the north coast to just this side of Vanderhoof who consider themselves as part of the workforce whether they are employed or not.

And that means the jobless rate can reflect how people feel about their own employment prospects.

Nationally, employment was up 1.2 per cent (212,000) compared with 12 months earlier.

During this same period, however, the employment rate was little changed, as employment and the working-age population grew at a similar pace,” said Statistics Canada.