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Southern Vancouver Island’s workforce grows but so does its unemployment rate

Greater Victoria’s workforce grew by 8,400 over the past year
Greater Victoria’s rising unemployment rate reflects more people entering the workforce, but shortages remain, according to a report from the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia. (Black Press Media file photo)

More people are entering the workforce in Greater Victoria, but shortages remain.

That is one of the conclusions emerging out of BC Check-Up: Work, an annual report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) on employment trends across the province.

As of September 2022, total employment across the region reached 213,500, a 4.1 per cent increase compared to September 2021. Overall, the regional unemployment rate was 4.7 per cent in September 2022, a slight uptick from 4.2 per cent in September 2021.

Lindalee Brougham, president of Victoria-based LL Brougham and a board director with the South Island Prosperity Partnership, said the increase in unemployment over the past year reflected more people entering the labour force and searching for work rather than people losing their jobs.

“In fact, Greater Victoria’s workforce increased by 8,400 over the past year,” she said. “Despite the strong showing over the past year, employment growth has lagged population growth since 2019.”

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Brougham added it is encouraging to see more residents enter the labour force given what she called the region’s “significant” labour shortages.“However, a smaller proportion of residents were in the labour force compared to pre-pandemic levels. And while the goods sector has fared well, the service sector has seen some industries struggle to recover.”

The region recorded a labour participation rate of 63 per cent in September 2022, an increase of 1.4 per cent compared to September 2021. “This represented an additional 9,900 residents joining the labour force,” it reads. “However, the labour participation rate remained below the 64.3 per cent in September 2019.”

Regionally, Greater Victoria’s population grew by 5.2 per cent between September 2019 and September 2022, according to the report.

“Over the past year, Greater Victoria’s workforce expanded, driven by growth in the construction workforce,” said. Brougham. “While our employment situation has improved markedly, challenges remain, including significant labour shortages. Going forward, it will be important to reduce barriers to joining the labour force, improve housing affordability, and focus on attracting more residents to our region.”

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