CPABC: Unemployment up in Northwest British Columbia, but labour shortages still persist

SMITHERS, British Columbia, Nov. 27, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- According to BC Check-Up: Work, an annual report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) on labour market trends across the province, Northwest B.C.’s employment was little changed between October 2022 and October 2023.

“Employment levels were similar to last year and about the same as they were before the pandemic," said Jeanne MacNeil, CPA, CA, partner at Edmison Mehr Chartered Professional Accountants. “Attracting workers remains a challenge for many businesses, despite the recent increase in unemployment.”

As of October 2023, there were 3,200 unemployed residents in Northwest B.C., up from 2,000 one year ago. As a result, the unemployment rate rose 2.5 percentage points to 6.8 per cent. The labour force participation rate—the proportion of working-age people who were either employed or looking for work—held steady at 67.0 per cent.

“The number of people looking for work did increase over the last year, with the unemployment rate rising slightly above what it was in October 2019,” continued MacNeil. “That said, job vacancies remain elevated compared to before the pandemic, and results vary by industry.”

There were 31,700 Northwest B.C. residents working in the services sector, unchanged from October 2022. Health care and social assistance lost 2,400 workers during the year, which was offset by gains in other industries.

Employment in the goods sector trended lower, as losses in construction (-1,300 workers) were partially offset by marginal gains in manufacturing and natural resources. As of October 2023, there were 11,900 people working in the goods sector.

“The slowdown in construction employment is something we have seen across the province, as higher interest rates and worker shortages put pressure on the industry,” concluded MacNeil. “On a more positive note, transportation through the Port of Prince Rupert and the region’s natural resources continue to be major economic drivers in Northwest B.C., so it is nice to see employment in those industries hold steady.”

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About CPA British Columbia

The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) is the training, governing, and regulatory body for over 39,000 CPA members and 6,000 CPA candidates and students. CPABC carries out its primary mission to protect the public by enforcing the highest professional and ethical standards and contributing to the advancement of public policy.