Blank Unemployment Benefits form. (File)

Kelowna loses over 5,000 jobs in April: StatCan

Unemployment rate jumps over two points to 8.1 per cent, highest since May 2016

The number of employed workers in the Kelowna area continues to plummet, mostly at the hands of pandemic-based restrictions and regulations.

For the past five months, Statistics Canada data has shown the unemployment rate in the Kelowna census metropolitan area (Peachland through Lake Country) to be either stagnant or rising.

But this month, the first we saw COVID-19 measures throughout, it skyrocketed.

StatCan’s most recent report, released May 8, shows the area lost around 5,300 jobs in April, bumping the unemployment rate up 2.2 percentage points to 8.1 per cent. This comes just one month after the region lost 2,000 jobs in March.

The Kelowna CMA has more than 10,000 fewer jobs right now than it did just one year ago in May 2019.

This month’s numbers mark the highest unemployment rate in Kelowna since May 2016 when the rate was 8.8 per cent.

For the whole Thompson-Okanagan region, the unemployment rate sits at 9 per cent, up 1.8 points from March.

READ MORE: COVID-19: B.C. unemployment rate more than doubles in April

READ MORE: COVID-19 wage subsidy program extended as pandemic pushes millions out of workforce

Kelowna’s numbers are, however, less severe than both the provincial and national averages.

Finance Minister Carole James said the B.C. economy has lost nearly 400,000 jobs since mid-March when pandemic restrictions were implemented and unemployment shot up to the double digits — 11.5 per cent.

But that number does not include the number of people who stopped looking for work in April as businesses wound down or remained closed, with widespread layoffs.

“This is an incredible jump from before the pandemic, when our unemployment rate was just five per cent, leading the country,” James said.

James said the gradual reopening of businesses announced this week is “a light at the end of the tunnel” for the province, but things could still get worse before they begin to rebound. The B.C. government got approval for a $5 billion pandemic relief fund in a brief sitting of the B.C. legislature in March, and $1.5 billion of that is set aside to help revive the economy.

Statistics Canada reported May 8 that B.C. lost 264,100 jobs in April, when COVID-19 restrictions on movement and business were in force for the first entire month. Across the country, nearly 2 million jobs were lost, prompting the federal government to extend the wage subsidy program beyond June.

According to the StatCan report, Canada lost 1,993,800 jobs through April. Meanwhile, millions more have seen their hours or incomes slashed due to the pandemic slowing and shuttering businesses.

Ottawa’s emergency wage subsidy, which officially launched last week, provides eligible businesses with 75 per cent of wages in order to keep more employees on their payroll, or bring them back if they were temporarily laid off.

“We created that subsidy to protect jobs as much as possible. Since the launch of the program, employers have already applied for the wage subsidy for some two million workers,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Canada’s unemployment rate for April would have been 17.8 per cent if the agency’s labour force survey had counted the estimated 1.1 million people who stopped looking for work because the pandemic shutdowns limited job opportunities.

-With files from Tom Fletcher and Ashley Wadhwani

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BREAKING: Fatal motorcycle crash on Highway 97 near Summerland

The incident involving a motorcycle happened just before 4 p.m.

COVID-19 closes Okanagan College summer camps

Popular Camp OC put on shelf from Salmon Arm to Penticton, and Revelstoke, until 2021

UPDATE: Penticton RCMP find no evidence of early morning gunshots

Loud blasts reported by several residents, RCMP say one person likened blasts to a car backfiring

COVID-19: SD67 approves budget reductions

Staff positions will be cut to balance budget

COVID-19: Pre-recorded graduation events planned for students in School District 67

Graduates from Penticton Secondary have created petition to urge postponement of grad ceremonies

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Peachland recovery task force proposes larger patios

Several initiatives proposed by the Peachland COVID-19 recovery task force will go to council tonight

Tagging Suicide Hill in Vernon in lieu of grad party?

City councillor pitches idea to revive old tradition amid COVID-19 pandemic

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

North Okanagan campers trashing rules

Campers still pitching tents, and leaving garbage, despite sites not being open until June 1

Most Read