Kelowna’s metropolitan area no longer has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada.
Statistics Canada released its February job numbers on Friday, and the Central Okanagan’s jobless rate increased from 4.6% in January to 5.2% last month.
That mark puts Kelowna and area behind Victoria (4.9%) and Quebec City (5%).
Kelowna’s labour force dropped by 1,500 people last month, and the number of unemployed people increased by 600 to 6,100. On the other hand, the region’s participation rate, which is the number of people employed or looking for work, decreased by 600 from January to February.
The good news for the Central Okanagan is the unemployment rate was actually better this February than it was last year at this time, when the jobless rate was 5.5%.
The Thompson Okanagan unemployment rate was 7.5% in February, which was worse than the 6.4% mark of February 2020.
Provincially, B.C. added 26,600 jobs, with the majority of those jobs going to women. This dropped B.C.’s unemployment rate to 6.9% from 8% in January.
“One year into this pandemic, British Columbia has returned to 99.4% of pre-pandemic employment levels,” Ravi Kahlon, B.C. Minister of Jobs, Economy Recovery and Innovation, said in a press release. “B.C.’s economy remains one of the strongest in Canada, having created jobs in each of the past 10 months.”
Nationally, the economy added 259,000 jobs in February, almost wiping out losses sustained over the previous two months. The economy lost almost 213,000 jobs in January as lockdown measures erased months of gains and marked the worst monthly declines since last April.
February’s reopenings reversed that drop with gains largely in Ontario and Quebec, and in sectors highly affected by tightened public health restrictions.
The national unemployment rate fell to 8.2%, the lowest level since March 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and down from the 9.4% recorded in January.
Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate would have been 10.7% in February had it included in calculations Canadians who wanted to work but didn’t search for a job.
— with files from The Canadian Press