Study shows Kootenay jobs up

CAs say economic growth may gain momentum in coming year

CRANBROOK – A new report from the Chartered Accountants of BC reveals that the Kootenay’s economy showed signs of recovery throughout 2011.  The BC Check-Up, Regional Edition, indicates that as employment grew, the unemployment rate declined. While other indicators point towards continued economic growth, overall capital investment in the region was down slightly.

“After three difficult years, our economy began to pick up last year,” said Cindy Popescul, CA, with BDO Canada LLP in Cranbrook. “We have seen increased labour market activity, with full-time positions accounting for the majority of job creation.”  The report found that in 2011, the Kootenay’s labour market grew by approximately 2,700 jobs, or 3.9 per cent.

Full-time positions accounted for two thirds of all job creation, suggesting an underlying strength in last year’s employment gains. Employment growth was driven by the services-producing sector, which increased by 4,000 jobs. Industries posting sizeable gains were accommodation and food services with 1,200 jobs, health care and social assistance with 1,000 jobs, and transportation and warehousing with 900 jobs.

In contrast, the goods-producing sector shed 1,300 workers, with wood product producers reporting the largest job losses, losing 1,600 jobs. According to the report, in 2011 the region’s unemployment rate shrank by 1.1 percentage points, decreasing to 8.2 per cent by year end, which was 0.7 percentage points higher than the provincial average.

The Regional Check-Up found that in the fourth quarter of 2011, the value of major project investment dipped slightly, decreasing from $6.9 billion to $6.7 billion. Overall the number of major projects dropped from 32 in 2010 to 29, with those under construction accounting for more than half of total investment value. On a positive note, the value of major project construction underway grew, driven by the strength of the manufacturing industry.

“Overall, 2011 was marked by slow yet tangible growth,” continued Popescul. “Employment has remained robust during the first three months of 2012, and ongoing major developments and projects that are ready to proceed are expected to sustain the positive momentum that began last year, particularly for construction workers.

“For example, the recently completed Waneta Dam Expansion Project will continue to generate employment until 2015. This and other related projects will be key generators of future employment and economic growth.”  The Kootenay Development Region comprises the Kootenay-Boundary, Central Kootenay, and East Kootenay Regional Districts, and accounts for nearly four per cent of the provincial population.

The BC Check-Up, Regional Edition looks at each region as a place to work, invest, and live.