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Construction employment downturn causing shrink in Island workforce: CPABC

The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia say the Vancouver Island and Coast’s unemployment rate has increased since last year.

Taken from its annual BC Check-Up: Work report, they say the unemployment rate was 4.1 per cent in November. That’s up 0.6 per cent since the year before.

According to its report, the main driver of this is the area’s construction industry. It says over the last year, the industry lost 10,200 workers. Meanwhile, the number of people working in the goods sector fell by 15.7 per cent.

“Our workforce contracted over the past year, erasing gains made between 2021 and 2022,” said FCPA Woody Hayes. “Outcomes vary across the local economy of course, and we are seeing some industries facing additional headwinds.”

CPABC adds that total employment for the region was 216,600 in November, down 4.3 per cent compared to the year before. However, since 2019 employment has grown by 7.4 per cent which outpaces the working-age population growth of 6.4 per cent over the same period.

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The labour force participation rate, which is the proportion of the working-age population who were either employed or unemployed, was 54.2 per cent. This means a 3.1 per cent drop but is on track with numbers from 2019.

“Evolving from incredibly tight labour market conditions in 2022, there have been signs of softening during 2023,” added Hayes.

“That said, the unemployment rate is still lower than what it was pre-pandemic, and a lot of employers are still having trouble with recruitment.”

As of last month, there were 179,000 Vancouver Island Coast residents working in the service sector outside of Victoria. Compared to November 2019, the service sector has added 25,200 workers.

They add trade, health care and professional services have accounted for most of the employment bump, while hospitality employment remains below pre-pandemic levels.

Hayes adds that attracting newcomers to the area who can address current labour shortages while ensuring that our infrastructure can support a growing population are both priorities.

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