Job growth in British Columbia remained positive coming into 2013, but minister for jobs, tourism, and skills training, Pat Bell, is nervous about the tenuous situation internationally and the effect it could have on B.C.
“We are in a very fragile position internationally,” Bell said. “We are doing well, but it could all turn around and go negative in a very short period of time.”
The provincial unemployment rate, at the end of December, 2012, stood at 6.5 per cent. The provincial average hourly wage was also up 2.2 per cent over the previous year at $24.03 per hour.
Despite the lowered provincial unemployment rate and despite the strength of certain municipalities in Northern B.C. (the Prince George unemployment rate, for example, is at 4.2 per cent), overall, Northwest B.C. continues to lag.
As of Jan. 5, 2013, Northern B.C., according to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, sat at 10.9 per cent in unemployment. This is an improvement over recent statistics.
According to Brian Yu, an economist with Central One Credit Union, the ‘surge’ in employment that Northern B.C. saw in 2011 was all but eliminated in 2012.
In 2012, employment in the North Coast and Nechako regions declined by nine per cent.
“Estimated average annual employment in the North Coast and Nechako fell to 39,300 persons in 2012, down from 43,000 in 2011 and 40,400 in 2010,” said Yu.
According to Yu, it looks like the gains made over 2010 and 2011 were eliminated in 2012. According to a chart provided by Yu, we are at the lowest point in terms of regional employment since 2007.
While jobs are up at the end of 2012 over the third quarter of 2012, the numbers indicate that the North Coast and Nechako regions continue to suffer an erosion of the employment base.
“Caution is warranted when looking at regional statistics as there can be wide variation due to small sample sizes,” said Yu.
“Nonetheless, there is clear evidence that the regional labour market weakened significantly, which could reflect completion of large projects in the area.”