Kootenay unemployment rate climbs to one of highest in Canada

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
January 11th, 2024

The Kootenay region’s economy is heading into unenviable territory.

Only three other economic regions in the country — outside of the Maritimes and the territories — had a higher unemployment rate than the Kootenay region in December, 2023, which now sports a 7.1 per cent rate (December, 2023, Statistics Canada).

One year ago the region was one of the lowest at 4.3 per cent, but 12 months later only Red Deer (7.9 per cent), Montreal (7.3 per cent) and Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine (9.9 per cent) have a higher rate than the Kootenay region, which comprises both East and West Kootenay, and includes Nelson, Castlegar, Trail and Grand Forks.

The mark is over twice the figure from one year ago (3.5 per cent) when the Kootenay region was one of the lowest unemployment rates in B.C. and across the country.

Earlier this month Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Tom Thomson said staffing remained a big problem for regional businesses in 2023 and it was expected to continue in 2024, with the effects of the pandemic still being felt.

During the COVID pandemic the staffing issue was compounded by business uncertainty and government supports keeping people at home and out of the workforce. There were more people looking for work in 2023 and fewer jobs going unfilled, he explained.

“It can still be a problem recruiting mid- to senior-level staffing positions if applicants are coming from out of the area due to the tight housing market,” said Thomson. “Employers still tell us stories about quality candidates applying and wanting to relocate, but some are unable to find accommodation.”



The unemployment rate in British Columbia was 5.6 per cent in December 2023, up 0.3 percentage points from November and up 1.5 percentage points from 12 months ago.

In December, both the labour force (up 29,000) and the number of people employed (up 17,700) increased on a month-over-month basis, while over the past 12 months it grew by 122,800 and 74,000, respectively.

Compared to one-month prior, the number of full-time positions increased (by 23,100) while part-time positions decreased (by 5,300). Part-time positions increased for those in the core working aged population of 25 to 54 (up 2,500).

Employment increased in both the private (14,300) and public (3,400) sectors. Meanwhile, there was a small increase in the number of self-employed individuals (100).


Versus rest of Canada

At 5.6 per cent, B.C. had the fourth lowest unemployment rate in Canada during the month of December, with only Manitoba (4.2 per cent), Quebec (4.7 per cent), and Saskatchewan (five per cent) ahead of B.C. Alberta and Ontario were tied for the fifth lowest rate at 6.3 per cent.

Across the country as a whole, employment remained nearly the same with an estimated 100 more jobs in December than in November. The unemployment rate (5.8 per cent) remained the same month-over-month but was up 0.8 percentage points when compared to 12 months ago.


Estimates on employment by gender are for people aged 25 years and over only.

Compared to November, employment in B.C. for men increased by 5,600 while the labour force increased by 7,800. The unemployment rate for men was 4.8 per cent in December, 0.1 percentage points higher than in November.

For women, there were 10,000 more jobs in December in B.C. and an estimated 19,200 women entered the labour force. As a result, the unemployment rate for women was 5.4 per cent, up 0.6 percentage points from November.

Source: Statistics Canada

This post was syndicated from https://thenelsondaily.com
Categories: General


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