Most of the new jobs that attributed to overall 2017 employment growth in the Kootenays, were in the service industry. (Photo by Matt Hoffman on Unsplash)

Kootenays outperform B.C. regions in job growth

Retail and hospitality jobs boosted 2017 Kootenay employment numbers ahead of other B.C. regions

Employment growth hit a five-year high in the Kootenays last year.

Overall employment rose to 71,900 with the addition of 4,500 new jobs, which is the region’s highest level since 2013.

That’s the good news.

The not-so-good news is that most of those jobs were not skilled positions and likely paid the low end of the wage scale.

Those figures are part of an annual economic report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of B.C. (CPABC) called the CPABC Regional Check-Up – Kootenays.

“Although our job growth was impressive last year, many of the new jobs created in the region were low-skilled positions,” said CPA Mike Calder in the association’s release. “So it’s not all that surprising that the share of our labour force with at least a post-secondary certificate or diploma fell for a second consecutive year to 65.8 per cent, below the provincial average.”

However, those low-skilled jobs upped the Kootenays overall employment growth by almost seven per cent in 2017, outperforming all other B.C. regions.

“The goods and service sectors added to employment growth, with the service sector adding 4,200 jobs,” Calder explained. “Although this is a sizable improvement for our region’s service sector, this still puts us at a level below the high of 55,400 service sector jobs we had in 2013.”

Between 2016 and 2017, employment in six of eleven Kootenay service industries expanded.

The top three were the trade industry, accommodation and food services, and industries referred to as “FIRE” (finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing).

The trade industry steadily added workers throughout 2017, primarily at the retail level, which the report states as, “consistent with the substantial increase in consumer spending reported at the provincial level, where sales increased in most retail store types.”

Interestingly, despite a temporary slowdown in areas that were affected by last summer’s wildfires, tourism to the region’s all-season attractions grew.

New jobs created in restaurants and pubs were responsible for most of the job growth in the accommodation and food services industry, and the region’s hotels also hired more workers.

“Employment growth helped push our unemployment rate down to 7.3 per cent in 2017,” Calder said. “This was the first decline since 2013.”

Further, strong commodity prices contributed to a good year for the region’s mining industry although parts of the forestry industry slowed in response to the U.S. lumber dispute.

Notably, pulp production was up due to increased international demand.

Although these dynamics helped set the stage for a moderate recovery in the Kootenay labour markets, Calder says that several indicators point to areas of weakness in the regional economy.

Accordingly, the report states, “the Kootenays remained a challenging place to live, work, and invest for some residents in 2017.”

Looking forward, labour market statistics show that overall employment in the Kootenays fell to 63,700 jobs by March 2018, with both the goods and services sectors losing workers.

Employment fell off in the construction and manufacturing industries, while health care and social assistance, accommodation and food services, and information, culture and recreation were responsible for most of the employment decline in the services sector.

The CPABC Regional Check-Up reports look at British Columbia’s eight development regions as a place to work, invest, and live. The reports are available online at: www.bccheckup.com.

The Kootenay Development Region is comprised of three Regional Districts: the Kootenay-Boundary, Central Kootenay, and East Kootenay. It accounts for nearly 3.1 per cent of the provincial population.

Just Posted

RDCK to purchase lands around Cottonwood Lake

21.6 hectares will be purchased for $450,000

COLUMN: Helping my father keep his dignity as he was dying

Nelson teacher Robyn Sheppard reflects on the life and death of her father

Nelson presents proposed 2019 budget with undecided tax increase

Further details will be available after a council meeting in April.

Nelson to get legal opinion on right-to-life street banner

Does the Nelson Right to Life banner violate the Charter of Rights?

Celebrate World Water Day in Crescent Valley

The event is organized by the Perry Ridge Watershed Association

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Baby left alone in vehicle in B.C. Walmart parking lot

Williams Lake RCMP issue warning after attending complaint at Walmart Wednesday

College of the Rockies to add 96 beds for student housing in Cranbrook

$17.7 million project featuring six cottege-style buildings to be completed by 2020

Nowhere to grieve: How homeless people deal with loss during the opioid crisis

Abbotsford homeless advocate says grief has distinct challenges for those living on the streets

Most Read