(File) Data shows an increase in the unemployment rate for the Kelowna census metropolitan area (CMA), which now sits at 5.9 per cent.

Unemployment up, Kelowna loses 2,000 jobs in March: StatCan

March unemployment rate 5.9 per cent, highest in Kelowna since January 2018

Employment in the Central Okanagan has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic — with the region losing about 2,000 jobs between February and March of this year.

Recently released data from Statistics Canada shows a decrease from nearly 104,000 employed workers in Kelowna in February to just under 102,000 in March.

The data shows job losses across the country, including an increase in the unemployment rate for the Kelowna census metropolitan area (CMA), which now sits at 5.9 per cent. The Kelowna CMA includes Peachland, West Kelowna, Kelowna and Lake Country.

Unemployment rates in the area rose 0.6 percentage points since last month and nearly two points since March of last year when the rate sat at 4 per cent.

This month’s numbers mark the highest unemployment rate in Kelowna since January of 2018 when the rate was 6.4 per cent.

The Thompson-Okanagan region as a whole is now sitting at a 7.2 per cent unemployment rate.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on people and economies around the world. British Columbia is no exception, which is evident in the number of lost jobs in this month’s labour force survey,” said B.C.’s finance minister Carole James on April 9.

“We know today’s numbers reflect the initial impacts of the pandemic, and a fuller picture will become clear in next month’s report. This is a stressful time for all British Columbians, but I want people and businesses to know our government is doing everything it can to support them – and together we will get through this.”

Across B.C., 132,000 jobs were lost in B.C. in March, bringing unemployment to 7.2 per cent provincially.

“And we know in fact this isn’t the entire picture,” James said. “Of note in the statistics that came out today, is that there are thousands of other British Columbians who are out of work and would normally be seeking work right now, but they’re hampered in their efforts for various reasons related to the pandemic. Their sector has been shut down. Those people are in addition to the kinds of numbers you’re seeing today.”

B.C., Ontario, Quebec and Alberta have been the hardest hit provinces through the pandemic. Ontario shed 403,000 jobs, Quebec lost 264,000 and Alberta lost 117,000 compared to just one month earlier.

Nationally, over 1 million jobs were lost — marking the worst recorded single month change ever — lifting unemployment to 7.8 per cent.

The number of people considered unemployed rose by 413,000 between February and March, almost all of it fuelled by temporary layoffs, meaning workers expected their jobs back in six months.

Those who didn’t work any hours during the week of the labour force survey increased by 1.3 million, the national statistics office says, while the number of people who worked less than half of their usual hours increased by 800,000.

Statistics Canada said those changes in hours can all be attributed to COVID-19, which has led governments to order businesses to close and workers to stay at home to slow the spread of the pandemic.

It also warned that the number of people absent from work for a full week who weren’t paid — which hit a seasonally adjusted rate of 55.8 per cent — ‘may be an indication of future job losses’.

All told, Statistics Canada says some 3.1 million Canadians either lost their jobs or had their hours slashed last month due to COVID-19.

“It is expected that the sudden employment decline observed in March will have a significant effect on the performance of the Canadian economy over the coming months,” the agency said in its report.

The jobs report also shows most of the losses were in the private sector, with the greatest employment declines observed for youth aged 15 to 24. The youth unemployment rate in March was 16.8 per cent, the highest it has been since June 1997.

-With files from the Canadian Press

READ MORE: 132,000 B.C. jobs lost just the start of COVID-19 impact, finance minister says

READ MORE: Canada lost 1,011,000 jobs in March, unemployment rate up to 7.8%: StatCan


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Boating Safety Week a chance to take stock of hazards on Shuswap Lake

Submerged logs, cold water and intoxicated captains are all safety concerns

$30,000 over 30 weeks for local causes

Send us your good stories and you could win money for your favourite cause

Columbia Shuswap Regional District office to begin phased reopening

Office will be open for four-hour days beginning next week

Tap Truck Okanagan launches as first location in Canada

The business is built on a restored 1957 Chevy panel van and ready to serve craft beer on tap, wine or cider

Flooding prompts closure of parks along Shuswap and Mara lakes

Boaters asked to respect No Wake policy protecting properties along water

Trudeau offers $14B to provinces for anti-COVID-19 efforts through rest of year

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

‘Alarmed’: Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec said that level of detail is not being collected

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Crews building structure at former Summerland train station site

West Summerland Station will pay tribute to railway history, serve as trail marker

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

Vernon protesters take Black Lives Matter movement to park

A handful of demonstrators raised fists, signs in solidarity Friday

Police watchdog investigating Lake Country incident

A man was taken to hospital after the June 3 incident

Community backlash over Black Lives Matter rally in Kelowna

Some members of Kelowna’s black community stated they don’t support Friday’s rally

Most Read