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Kootenays have third highest unemployment rate in B.C.

The region’s rate rose to 5.7 per cent, higher than the national average
The Kootenays’ unemployment rate rose to 5.7 per cent in June. File image

by Timothy Schafer

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,The Nelson Daily

The unemployment rate for the Kootenay region has been steadily climbing since the start of the year and now sits above the national average, according to recent figures released by Statistics Canada.

The percentage for known unemployed people in the Kootenay region, which includes West and East Kootenay, was 5.7 per cent in June, according to Statistics Canada latest figures, up from 5.5 per cent in May.

That rate is the third highest in the province, behind the Cariboo (eight per cent) and North Coast and Nechako (6.1 per cent). Vancouver Island and the Coast was the lowest at 4.4 per cent.

The new figures eclipse the 3.9 per cent from one year ago, with 82,300 people working and 5,000 looking for work out of a population of 142,000.

At the same time last year, 84,600 people had jobs and 2,900 were trying to find them, while the population stood at 140,700.

Nationally, the unemployment rate rose to 5.4 per cent from 5.2 per cent, despite an increase in jobs of 60,000, driven by gains in full-time work. According to StatsCan, the biggest increases were seen in male age bracket of 15-to-54 years old.

In job sectors, employment rose nationally in wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, health care and social assistance and transportation and warehousing but went down in construction, educational services and agriculture.

StatsCan released the average hourly wage for working Canadians, noting that it rose 4.2 per cent to $33.12 following an increase of 5.1 per cent in May.

Across the province

B.C.’s economy as a whole is holding steady with a decrease in part-time jobs in June and an increase in full-time jobs.

B.C.’s unemployment rate is at 5.7 per cent, which is fourth-lowest among all provinces, but above the historic low in winter.

The province’s average hourly wage of $34.21 is third-highest in the country, and year-over-year growth of seven per cent leads all large provinces.