Job growth good in some sectors of Thompson-Okanagan economy despite pandemic | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Job growth good in some sectors of Thompson-Okanagan economy despite pandemic

Higher prices for forestry products helped boost employment in that sector despite COVID-19.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
December 20, 2020 - 6:00 AM

Even though COVID-19 cost thousands of people their jobs in the Thompson and Okanagan regions, some sectors actually saw job growth by November.

That’s according to a news release issued by Karen Christiansen, a Kelowna-based accountant with the Chartered Professional Accountants of B.C.

“At the low-point in June, the region shed nearly one-in-ten jobs compared to the previous year, a loss of 23,200 positions,” she wrote. “Thankfully, certain sectors experienced a strong recovery over the past seven months and by November employment in the region was down by just 2.5 per cent.”

Employment in the goods sector was up 11.4 per cent by November 2020 versus November 2019. That growth was led by natural resources with 20 per cent more jobs added this year so it now employs 8,000 people in the region.

There was a 60 per cent increase in forest product prices by early this fall, which fuelled some of that growth, she wrote. Prices moderated a bit by November.

Despite a shortage of temporary foreign workers in the agricultural industry because of COVID-19, the report says employment in sector was up actually up 14.1 per cent.

The association couldn’t say whether the data, which is based on Statistics Canada reports, included the foreign workers or not. Certainly, Okanagan fruit growers did encourage locals to fill that gap but the cannabis industry had also been growing and needed workers.

READ MORE: Fruit growers facing another rough year if COVID-19 labour issues aren't sorted

The number of manufacturing jobs was up by 13.8 per cent.

Still, almost 14,000 fewer people were employed in the Thompson and Okanagan regions in November compared to the same month in 2019.

Most of those are in the entertainment and recreation sectors (down 51.1 per cent) and hospitality (down 36.9 per cent) year over year.

“To support those hardest hit by the economic impacts of this recession, the province should invest in policies that help people return to gainful employment,” Christiansen wrote. “For instance, providing displaced workers with financial support for training, with a focus on emerging industries that have a growing demand for labour."

The release is an update on a more detailed report on B.C.’s economy during COVID-19 that was based on August figures. It can be viewed here.


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