Unemployment climbs in West Kootenay

The unemployment rate in the West Kootenay is rising and the number of people employed dropped in April according to provincial statistics.

The unemployment rate in the West Kootenay is rising and the number of people employed dropped in April, according to statistics from the province’s recent Labour Force Survey.

The survey revealed the current unemployment rate in the West Kootenay was 7.2 per cent, the highest it has been in eight months. However, the figure was down from the 10.1 per cent the region faced one year ago.

Overall, there were 1,600 fewer people employed in April (73,300) than in March, illustrating a steady drop in employment in the region since January when 76,100 held jobs.

In 2011, April was the worst month of the year for unemployment at 10.1 per cent (70,400 employed), with November seeing the lowest rate at 6.4 (74,200 employed). On average, the West Kootenay had an 8.4 per cent unemployment rate for 2011.

While the current youth unemployment rate of 10.5 per cent marks a low in light of the recent recession period and an overall improvement, it should be noted that this rate remains well above the pre-recession low of six per cent recorded in November 2005.

It is also noteworthy that the youth unemployment rate is nearly twice that of those aged 25 years and over (5.5 per cent).

Across the province, more British Columbians benefited from jobs in April, as the province’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.2 per cent from seven per cent in March, and gained 19,700 jobs  — 16,700 of which were full time positions.

The Labour Force Survey also revealed that compared to this time last year, B.C.’s unemployment rate is 1.6 percentage points lower, resulting in the province having Canada’s fourth-lowest unemployment rate in Canada.

Regionally, Vancouver Island and the Coast gained 4,600 positions, while the Lower Mainland-Southwest gained 15,000 positions and the Cariboo region gained 500 positions.

Both North Coast/Nechako (–3.6 per cent) and Thompson/Okanagan (–2.5 per cent) recorded a slowdown in the number of jobs in April.

Strong gains were recorded in forestry, fishing, mining and gas extraction; manufacturing; trade; and transportation and warehousing.

Not all industries fared as well, as workforces were trimmed in the construction (–1.2 per cent) and utilities (–10.6 per cent) industries.