The unemployment rate in the Kootenays was 5.7 per cent in October, up just slightly from 5.5 per cent last May.
This is holding steady on a year-over-year basis says the latest BC Check-Up from the Chartered Accountants of British Columbia.
Mike Calder, CPA, CA at BDO Canada says employment levels have been stable this year and the unemployment rate is at pre-pandemic levels.
As of October 2023, there were 78,000 Kootenay residents in the workforce, little change since the same time last year.
There were 58,200 full-time workers, marking a decline of 7.9 per cent from October 2022. This was offset by an increase in part-time work (up 42.4 per cent).
Labour force participation in the Kootenays was unchanged as well, holding at 57.8 per cent.
The labor force participation rate is an estimate of an economy’s active workforce. The formula is the number of people ages 15 and older who are employed or actively seeking employment, divided by the total non-institutionalized, civilian working-age population.
“The longer-term dip in the labour force participation rate is pretty consistent with having an aging population,” Calder said. “Our population is among the oldest in the province, so it’s no surprise that our labour force participation is also among the lowest.”
The services sector employed 57,100 workers in October 2023, virtually unchanged from a year ago. Healthcare and social assistance expanded by nearly 50 per cent, adding 4,200 workers during the year. Many other industries experienced employment changes, with notable declines in professional services (-3,000 workers) and information, culture, and recreation (-2,200 workers).
“The pandemic really exacerbated some of the challenges faced in delivering adequate health care to the region,” said Calder. “Labour shortages hampered our ability to provide timely health services to Kootenay residents, so an increase in the health workforce is a move in the right direction.”
A priority going forward will be attracting younger residents in their prime working years, who have the skills necessary to fill vacancies in the region, Calder says.