UPDATE: Minister concerned about high unemployment in the northwest

Northwest BC has the highest unemployment rate in the province and is the only region in BC in double digits.

  • Aug. 10, 2012 7:00 a.m.

Northwest BC has the highest unemployment rate in the province, according to stats released on August 10 by the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, and it is the only region in BC in double digits.

The unemployment rate for the North Coast and Nechako region, which covers just west of Vanderhoof to Haida Gwaii, was 11.9 per cent this July. That number was down slightly from the 12.2 per cent in June but is the third highest rate this year.

When compared to last July’s 7.7 per cent unemployment figure, the number is up 4.2 per cent. For the first six months of 2012 the average unemployment rate in the region was 11.9 per cent compared to 8.2 per cent for the first six months of 2011.

In terms of the number of people employed, that figure has fallen from 44,300 last July to 38,400, a loss of 5,900 employed people in the northwest, while 500 jobs were lost from June to July. So far this year the number of people employed in the region is down 7.9 per cent while provincially the figure has risen 1.9 per cent.

“We will have our team take a much closer look at the North Coast and Nechako region to see where this is occurring and how we can address it…We know that the loss of jobs is not actually the case with what is happening in Kitimat and with the port activity in Prince Rupert. I was in Terrace recently and didn’t see this as the case,” said minister Pat Bell, noting that the size of the region makes it difficult to pinpoint where the job loss and high unemployment is occurring.

“It is a cause for concern, particularly given the level of economic activity that is taking place in the region.”

The next highest unemployment rate is in the Cariboo, which has an unemployment rate of 8.1 per cent, followed by the Kootenay region at 6.8 per cent. The lowest unemployment rate in the province was in the northeast, with an unemployment rate of 4.3 per cent,.

The provincial number is at 6.9 per cent, which is down from last July’s 7.3 per cent figure.

Statistics Canada compiles its information for the northwest by interviewing people over the age of 15 from the north coast to just west of Vanderhoof and is not a reflection of those collecting Employment Insurance. Those considering themselves part of the workforce are people with a job or who are looking for work. People withdraw from the workforce for any number of reasons, not all of which are associated with having a job or not.