Kelowna’s unemployment rate among worst in British Columbia: Statistics Canada

A sign outside a building at Statistics Canada in seen in Ottawa on Friday, March 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Kelowna’s unemployment rate dipped in February but it’s still among the worst in B.C.

In the latest Labour Report from Statistics Canada, the Central Okanagan’s jobless rate fell to 7.1 per cent in February, down slightly from the 7.2 per cent reported in January.

By comparison, the unemployment rate in Abbotsford -Mission was 5.4 per cent, in Vancouver it was 5.7 per cent and in Victoria it was 3.9 per cent.

At the same time, the region’s total labour force also dropped in that timeframe from 113,200 to 112,200, while the population grew by 400.

It’s a significant shift considering a year earlier, in January 2021, the local unemployment rate was lauded for being among the lowest in the country at 4.5 per cent.

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Krista Mallory, manager of the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, said it’s best not to put too much weight on the figures.

StatsCanada itself, she said, advises not looking at this data on a month-to-month basis, as the sample size used to derive the figure is quite small.

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That said, the figures have taken those at the economic development commission by surprise.

“We have consistently had the lowest unemployment rates in the country,” she said, adding that the region has shown signs that it’s come out of the pandemic in good condition.

And, she said, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence indicating that the economy is growing.

Nationally, the unemployment rate fell to 5.5 per cent, below the 5.7 per cent level where it was at in February 2020.

Statistics Canada said Friday the unemployment rate would have been 7.4 per cent last month had it included in calculations people who wanted a job but did not look for one.

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The majority of the decline in the ranks of Canada’s unemployed came from people called back to work in February after a temporary layoff one month earlier as provinces tightened restrictions to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

As restrictions eased, eight provinces saw job increases, although Alberta and New Brunswick stayed flat.

Click to play video: 'Okanagan reaction as B.C. releases timeline for easing COVID-19 restrictions'
Okanagan reaction as B.C. releases timeline for easing COVID-19 restrictions

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