On Nov. 2, 2012 Statistics Canada placed B.C. third compared to other provinces in job creation, although the B.C. unemployment rate of 6.7 per cent remains lower than the national average of 7.4 per cent. The unemployment rate in Northern B.C. remains higher than in the rest of the province at 12 per cent (HRSDC website statistic).
The Kamloops area has shown one of the strongest increases across the province in employment with a gain of 1,100 jobs. The New Afton Mine in Kamloops has played a big role in reducing Kamloops’ regional unemployment rate to 4.4 per cent. Jobs minister Pat Bell described mines as providing at least a three to one multiplying factor of indirect to direct mining jobs.
The Northern B.C. job numbers continue to languish despite the upswing in industrial activity through the north. The increased economic activity in Northern B.C. does not appear to be doing much for the local unemployment rates across the region.
“It’s the region that concerns me the most with finding employment opportunities for people,” said Bell.
There are challenges to getting an accurate picture of what is happening across the northern region, Bell explained. Sample sizes are too small for slight variations to show up in the monthly jobs report.
For example, Bell explained, “We’ve seen job growth in the [Terrace] region up 200 jobs in the past month,” but that increase doesn’t show up in the statistics.
People working in Northern B.C. camp projects or in temporary living quarters would not be included in the sampling process that Statistics Canada uses to determine the monthly job numbers.
“The way employment is calculated does not take into account the level of economic activity in the northwest region right now,” said Bell.