National employment numbers back at pre-pandemic levels

Kelowna job numbers solid

The unemployment rate in Kelowna’s metropolitan area dropped three-tenths of a percentage point in September, checking in with its lowest mark since March.

Kelowna’s unemployment rate fell from 5.7% in August to 5.4% in September, which is the eighth lowest figure in Canada. Victoria had B.C.’s lowest unemployment rate at 4.2%, according to figures released Friday by Statistics Canada.

The Central Okanagan unemployment numbers are much better than the national average of 6.9%. Statistics Canada said the nation added 157,000 jobs in September, which brought employment back to pre-pandemic levels for the first time since COVID-19 started battering the economy in March 2020.

The B.C. unemployment rate was 5.9% in September.

Kelowna’s participation rate, which is the percentage of the working-age population that is working or looking for work, decreased by approximately 200 people last month, and the rest of the categories, including employment rate and the number in the labour force, remained relatively the same.

Statistics Canada said Canada’s unemployment rate in September would have been higher, at 8.9%, if it included the number of people who wanted to work but didn’t search for a job.

The Thompson Okanagan unemployment rate was also 5.4% in September.

The statistics agency said the national job gains were widespread but concentrated in full-time work, and evenly split between the public and private sector. Gains were also notable in industries where many workers continue to work remotely.

Still, the ranks of long-term unemployed who have been without work for six month or more remained little changed last month and was still double the number recorded in February 2020.

Leah Nord, senior director of workforce strategies with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, says the fact that nearly 400,000 Canadians are long-term unemployed should put a pause on any celebrations, particularly with no data to explain why they haven't been able to rejoin the labour force in months.

“Canadians want to work. Most are not unemployed by choice, so we need to dig down and find out exactly what's holding them back so we can make evidence-based decisions,” she said in a statement.

“Our full economic recovery depends on it.”

— with files from The Canadian Press

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