KELOWNA – Recent hiring fairs in the Okanagan have been overwhelmed with applicants and now a BMO report card has ranked Kelowna’s labour market as the second worst in the country. Many believe the region is feeling the effects of layoffs in Alberta.
Now there is more bad news for Okanagan residents looking for work. A year ago unemployment in Kelowna was sitting at 3 per cent. It’s now jumped to 7.6 per cent. That was one of the stats BMO took into account in a report card that rated Kelowna’s labour market as the second-worst in the country.
The economist who wrote the report believes layoffs among Okanagan residents commuting to Alberta are playing a role and may even be making the situation look worse on paper than it is in reality.
“The fact that employment is down more than 2 per cent in the last year, I think part of that reflects some of those job losses that are actually taking place in Alberta,” says senior economist Robert Kavcic.
“It is exaggerating the weakness quite a bit, I think.”
Kelowna’ mayor says it is too soon to sound the alarm.
“It is just a one-month snapshot. Let’s take a look at what the next three months look like and if the numbers are still trending in the same way, then I would say we have a trend,” says Colin Basran.
Basran says there are other signs like the growth of knowledge-based industries and the city’s development statistics that suggest the city’s economy is actually heading in a positive direction.