More than 21,000 jobs unfilled in Thompson-Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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More than 21,000 jobs unfilled in Thompson-Okanagan

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While thousands of working-age people moved to the Thompson-Okanagan region in the last two years and the overall number of jobs has increased by 6,400 since December 2019, there are still great inequities in the job picture.

“Some of the region’s largest employers continue to struggle while others face growing labour shortages, and a lower participation rate means less people are actively looking for work,” Karen Christiansen, partner at MNP LLP in Kelowna, wrote in a letter to the editor submitted on behalf of the Chartered Professional Accountants of B.C.

After the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, the number of jobs in the Thompson-Okanagan region dropped by 24,000 by May 2020 compared to December 2019.

Since then, not only has that number of jobs been recovered but another 6,400 new jobs were added, leading the province in job creation.

During that time, 17,300 working age people moved into the region and the unemployment rate has fallen from 5.0% in December 2019 to 4.6% in December 2021.

The increase in jobs has been accompanied by a lower participation rate in the labour force, leaving 21,000 jobs unfilled. That is a record high of 7.8% of the region’s 301,900 jobs not being filled.

In December 2019, 62.9% of working age residents were employed or looking for work in the region. That’s now dropped to 61.9%.

Job growth has been very uneven.

“Overall, employment gains were concentrated in the service sector, which was up by 3.4 per cent over that same period,” Christiansen wrote. “However, while most service industries increased employment, particularly in the public sector and professional services, customer-facing industries such as wholesale/retail trade and hospitality continued to struggle.

“In addition, employment in the goods sector has not returned to pre-pandemic levels. It was down 2.2 per cent from December 2019, primarily due to a weak construction sector, the region’s largest goods sector employer, where over one-in-ten jobs have not returned.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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