According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate in Northwest B.C. dropped to 8.7 per cent in August 2011, down from 11 per cent in August 2010.
The information was released as part of the monthly Labour Force Survey, which collects employment data from 56,000 households across Canada.
The 2.3-per cent drop in unemployment was caused, in part, by a lower overall population and a growing labour force. According to Statistics Canada’s estimates, the population dropped by 400 people in the region, down to 66,600; but the actual labour force rose by 2,800 people to 49,200.
Officially, the data reflect employment in the North Coast & Nechako region, which is made up of the following regional districts: Skeena-Queen Charlotte, Kitimat-Stikine, and Bulkley-Nechako. In other words, from Haida Gwaii to Vanderhoof.
Paddy Jones, the manager of the Career Resource Centre in Prince Rupert, said the drop in unemployment numbers corresponds to data she keeps track of.
Although the Career Resource Centre doesn’t see all unemployed people in Rupert, it keeps track of all the people who come in looking for help, said Jones. She said the rate of people who found employment after visiting the Centre was higher in August than it had been for over a year.
In other words, she said, it appears that people are working in Rupert.
On top of that, Jones also said the Centre’s job board is full and has a good mix of jobs. Since job boards don’t typically show every single job available in a community, she said this indicates that jobs are out there and people are working.
As for the cause of the increase in employment, Jones didn’t know the exact reason, but did mention that more people are going to Kitimat for camp jobs.
The reason for the increase in work at Kitimat is mostly due to the modernization of Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter – a $2.5 billion project that was announced last year. Kitimat also recently scored a Tim Hortons franchise, which should be opening in 2012.
Still, even with the drop in unemployment, Jones said there are still a number of people unemployed in Rupert. Many have been unemployed for a long period of time, she said, adding that the longer one is without work, the hard it is to find a job.
The national unemployment rate was at 7.3 per cent. B.C.’s unemployment rate for August was measured at 7.5 per cent, up 0.2 per cent from the previous year.
Western Canada continued to maintain low unemployment rates: in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, unemployment rates dropped to 4.5 per cent and 5.4 per cent, respectively. Alberta saw a slight rise, from 5.5 per cent to 5.6 per cent.
~Written by Chris Armstrong