The Kootenay jobless rate was among the highest in B.C. in April.

The Kootenay jobless rate was among the highest in B.C. in April.

Unemployment rate on the rise

Job rate snapshot shows Kootenay region in a slump

Unemployment in the Kootenays has risen to 7.9 per cent, just six months after it dipped to a B.C. low of 3 per cent.

According to the BC Stats Labour Force Statistics report for the month of April, released on May 9, the Kootenay region has unemployment significantly higher than the provincial average of 5.8 per cent.

The Kootenays are among the regions with the highest unemployment rate. The rate is highest in the Northeast region (8.6 per cent), followed by Abbotsford-Mission metropolitan area (8.1 per cent).

Job hunting is easiest in Victoria, where the unemployment rate is 4.9 per cent, and in Kelowna, where it is 5.1 per cent.

There are presently 67,700 people who are employed in the Kootenays, down from 79,600 in September 2013.

That’s when the unemployment rate for the region was the lowest at 3 per cent. It has been steadily climbing since last fall, up to 4.8 per cent in November, 6.7 per cent in January, before hitting 7.8 per cent in March.

In B.C. as a whole, there were 3,700 less people working in April than the previous month. But the unemployment rate stayed the same because 1,900 fewer people were participating in the job force.

Jobs were lost in many sectors: goods-producing (14,000), accommodation and food services (11,800), professional, scientific and technical services (10,800), construction (7,400), finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (6,200), manufacturing (3,900), natural resources including forestry and mining (1,500), and agriculture (1,400).

But there were more jobs in the business, building and support services sector (13,200), trade sector (19,700), services-producing sector (10,300), and health care and social assistance sector (9,600).

The unemployment rate in B.C. was the third lowest in Canada in April, after Saskatchewan at 3.4 per cent and Alberta at 4.7 per cent.

Weekly wages in B.C. are around the middle of the pack. In April, the average weekly wage rate was $885, the fifth highest in Canada after our neighbours in Alberta ($1,066), followed by Newfoundland ($940), Saskatchewan ($931) and Ontario ($907). Workers in Prince Edward Island earned the least in April at $746 average weekly wage.