by Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on Saturday May 13 2023
The unemployment rate for the Kootenay region is beginning to climb but is still below 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 4.3 per cent in April, according to Statistics Canada latest figures, up from 3.2 per cent in March.
With the lowest rate in the province — 82,700 people were working and 3,700 looking for work out of a population of 141,700 — it closely matched the rate of 4.2 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.
Across the province the unemployment rate for the last month was at five per cent — the same rate from one year previous (five per cent) — while the national unemployment rate was steady at five per cent, despite a gain of 35,000 jobs in April.
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 in March.
“(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.
According to the ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation, B.C. added 5,300 new jobs this year in the private sector — making a total of 14,300 new jobs being added since the start of 2023.
“We are tackling head-on the labour shortage businesses are facing through the Future Ready Plan with $480 million over three years, so people can get the skills they need to get that great job they are after, and businesses can recruit and retain employees to help them expand and grow,” said Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation, in a press release.
“It will also include new funding to help businesses find and implement technology and practical solutions to prepare for a changing global economy.”
Overall gains in the national economy show a jump of 41,000 part-time jobs in April, 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.