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Central Okanagan economically unstoppable as boom continues

Click to play video: 'Strong economic growth in central Okanagan according to latest report'
Strong economic growth in central Okanagan according to latest report
Strong economic growth in central Okanagan according to latest report – May 4, 2018

With the population in the Central Okanagan growing fast and the sound of construction everywhere, it’s no surprise that the local economy is booming.

But a report released this week, looking at Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country and Peachland, shows that it may be booming even more than many may think.

According to the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, the Central Okanagan is the fastest growing region in all of B.C.

The commission just released its economic indicators for the first quarter of 2018 and with the exception of one area, all economy-related sectors saw a jump.

The Central Okanagan’s population was just shy of 200,000 people in 2017. That is an increase of 1.4 per cent from the year before.

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The labour force also saw an increase. It rose by 1.7 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same time period last year.

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More people are also employed. The unemployment rate sitting at 6.1 per cent in the first three months of 2018 compared to 7.1 the year before.

There are also more jobs up for grabs. In the first three months of this year, there were 5,871 job postings compared to 3,713-hundred in the last quarter of 2017. That is an increase of 58.1 per cent in that short time period. Most of those jobs were in the sales and service sector followed by business, finance and administration positions.

Household income is also up. The median household income went up by 19.5 per cent between 2005 and 2015 and sits at $71,127.

Building permit values also on the rise. 2017 saw record breaking building permit values with 23.7 per cent growth over 2016. And business licenses increased by 11.6 per cent from 2013 to 2017.

The one area that saw a significant drop is housing starts. They were down by 63 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same time period in 2017. The decrease is being attributed to 2017 being an unprecedented year for multi-family dwelling starts such as condos and apartments.

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