According to Statistics Canada, unemployment in the Kootenays has remained steady over the course of the year, but is still one of the highest in the province.
There was a slight drop in July from last year, down from 9 per cent to 8.6 per cent and at least one major project in the area has helped bring that number down.
The Waneta Dam expansion project employs 160 people on average — 83 per cent of those from within a 100-kilometre radius of the area, said Bree Seabrook, stakeholder relations co-ordinator for Columbia Power Corporation.
Despite projects like the dam, the Kootenay region had the second highest unemployment rate in the province in July, after the Abbotsford-Mission region.
In the region there were 1,200 fewer people with work in July, but Statistics Canada attributed that to fewer people participating in the job market.
Every other area in the province is sitting within the seven-to-eight per cent range, with the exception of the Northeast at 4.4. per cent. Eight of the 11 regions and metropolitan areas saw a drop in their unemployment rates from last July, including the Kootenays.
The province’s unemployment rate was at 7.3 per cent in July.
The Kootenay’s unemployment rate jumped up significantly in 2009 to 8.7 per cent and up again to 9.3 per cent in 2010. 2008 had the lowest unemployment rate at 4.9 per cent in the last 10 years.