Although the jobless rate has slipped slightly in the Kootenay region it still remains well below the provincial and national rates.

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 3.2 per cent in March, according to Statistics Canada latest figures, up from 2.9 per cent in February.

With the lowest rate in the province — 82,000 people were working and 2,700 looking for work out of a population of 141,500 — it matched the rate of unemployment in December, 2022, but was down from the 4.9 per cent rate from one year ago.

In March 2022, there were 77,800 working and 4,000 job hunting out of a population of 140,300 for a rate of 4.9 per cent.

Across the province the unemployment rate for the last month was at 4.9 per cent — down slightly from one year previous (5.2 per cent) — while the national unemployment rate was steady at five per cent, despite a gain of 35,000 jobs in March.

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 late last month.

“(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 22,000 jobs in March, with sectors of the economy such as transportation and warehousing, as well as finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing leading the way. There was, however, a decline in employment in construction and natural resources.

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.

By Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 07, 2023 at 01:33

This item reprinted with permission from   The Nelson Daily   Nelson, British Columbia
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