The unemployment rate in the Kelowna metropolitan area continued its downward trajectory last month, falling one-tenth of a percent to stand at 3.1%, compared to the 3.2% recorded in April.
The rate is the lowest seen in the Central Okanagan in nearly 4.5 years.
According to Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey, released Friday, the Kelowna rate was the second lowest among Canada’s metropolitan areas in May, bettered only by Quebec City with a rate of 2.6 recorded last month.
The Central Okanagan’s unemployment rate has steadily dropped since November 2022, when it was 4.9%. May’s 3.1% is the lowest it has been since the same rate was recorded in January 2019.
Meanwhile, the Thompson-Okanagan’s unemployment rate rose slightly in May to 4.8%, up from 4.4% in April.
The national rate also rose two-tenths of a percent, standing at 5.2% last month, marking the first increase since August 2022.
Statistics Canada said across the country a modest 17,000 jobs were lost but that was offset by job growth that averaged 33,000 between February and April. That followed the economy adding more than 300,000 jobs cumulatively between September 2022 and January 2023.
The unemployment rate numbers followed the Bank of Canada’s announcement earlier this week that it was raising its key interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point, bringing it to 4.75%, the highest it has been since 2001.
Meanwhile, across B.C., the unemployment rate was recorded at 5%, the fourth lowest among Canada’s provinces. Provincially, 1,400 jobs were added last month, bringing the 2023 year-to-date total to 17,800.
B.C.’s jobs minister called the unemployment rate numbers “another sign of (B.C.’s) strength and stability.” Brenda Bailey said businesses across the province are seeing more applicants apply for vacant positions.
A labour shortage was cited by many businesses, small and large, as a huge problem as they emerged from the pandemic.