KELOWNA – According to BC Check-Up: Work, an annual report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) on labour market trends across the province, the Thompson-Okanagan’s unemployment rate was 3.2 per cent in October 2023, down 1.7 percentage points from October 2022.
“The unemployment rate in the region hit a record low for the month of October,” said Karen Christiansen, FCPA, FCA. “While that might sound like good news on the surface, our low unemployment stems from a shrinking labour force rather than strong employment numbers.”
As of October 2023, there were 297,400 people working in the Thompson-Okanagan, a marginal decline from October 2022. At the same time, there were 6,300 fewer people looking for work. As a result, the labour force participation rate—the proportion of the working-age population who were either employed or unemployed—fell by 4.5 percentage points during the year to 58.0 per cent.
In terms of job vacancies, there were just under 19,000 unfilled positions in the Thompson-Okanagan, according to the most recent data from the second quarter. This marked a decline of nearly 4,000 vacancies from Q2 of 2022.
“Looking at the broad range of indicators, there are signs the labour market in the region has softened a little over the last year,” continued Christiansen. “Acute labour shortages still exist, however, as employers are struggling to find enough suitable candidates in many industries.”
Employment in the services-producing industries fell by 13,500 workers on a year-over-year basis, with 227,700 people employed in the sector. Losses in trade (-7,800) and information, culture, and recreation (-5,700) contributed most to the decline, while education added 4,400 workers.
Meanwhile, goods-sector employment totaled 69,700 in October 2023, holding steady compared to one year ago. Employment was little changed in most industries during the period.
“The region faces a number of challenges going forward,” concluded Christensen. “Attracting workers to fill existing skill gaps, especially as the population ages, is a priority. Travel and tourism will continue to be a staple of the regional economy, and supporting growth in other industries is critical to the Thompson-Okanagan’s economic success.”