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B.C. leads Canada's job growth yet Victoria's unemployment rise

Sep 08 2012
The forestry industry has helped drive growth in the B.C. job market. 

The forestry industry has helped drive growth in the B.C. job market.

Photograph by: Shane Morrow , Alberni Valley Times

B.C.'s jobs minister is crowing that 51,700 new jobs were created in the past year, surpassing job growth in other provinces, including Alberta at second place with 43,300 new jobs.

When the province introduced its jobs plan a year ago, the target was to reach the No. 2 spot, Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, said Friday. "It clearly exceeds our expectations."

Gains have mainly been in resource industries, Bell said. "That typically leads to job growth like government services and other sectors."

In the past month alone, B.C. added close to 15,000 jobs, sending the unemployment rate down to 6.7 per cent from seven per cent in July. However, Alberta trumps B.C. in that category, with a monthly unemployment rate of 4.4 per cent in August, down from 4.6 per cent in July.

Nationwide, 34,000 new jobs were added last month - largely due to more parttime employment, Statistics Canada said. Canada's unemployment rate is unchanged at 7.3 per cent.

Locally, Greater Victoria's unemployment rate climbed slightly to 5.9 per cent in August, from 5.3 per cent in July.

Last month, seasonally adjusted employment in the capital region was 182,300, down from 182,700 in July, the federal agency said. At the same time, the labour force (those working and willing to work) rose month-over-month to 193,800 from 193,600.

On a yearly basis, health care and social assistance jobs increased by 19.3 per cent to 30,300 last month from 25,400 a year earlier. Manufacturing employment rose by 17.7 per cent to 7,300 from 6,200, and educational services jobs grew by 14.2 per cent to 12,100 from 10,600, Statistics Canada data showed.

The general services category saw the largest yearly percentage job loss, at 17.1 per cent to 6,800 from 8,200. Construction work declined by 14.4 per cent to 11,900 jobs from 13,900.

The capital region's current unemployment level is "very low" despite the increase in the rate, Bell said. He's optimistic about B.C.'s job picture.

"I believe that as we see resource revenues starting to grow in all the key sectors, you'll see job growth occurring in the Victoria region as well," he said. "When the regional economies are strong, all of B.C. is strong."

Monthly regional job growth was strong throughout B.C., except for the northwest, he said.

Forestry and mining jobs increased by 10,500 in 12 months, up 28 per cent, he said. Those gains are tied to markets in China, where demand is anticipated to continue.

Agriculture, transportation, utilities and accommodation and food sectors all saw monthly growth as well, Bell said.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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