Unemployment rate back into single digits

Unemployment rate decreases in Nanaimo but demand for services by job seekers remains steady.

Christopher White

Christopher White

Unemployment rates in Nanaimo have dropped to single digits, but demand by job seekers remains steady at city employment agencies.

The city’s unemployment rate fell to 9.8 last month, a significant drop from 16 per cent in May.

Duncan’s unemployment rate now sits at 11.6 per cent, while Prince George is at 7.5 per cent and Kamloops was 6.1 per cent.

Employment in the province increased by 32,000 jobs – all in full-time work. The provincial unemployment rate was 6.7 per cent in September.

Despite the drop, organizations haven’t seen a decrease in demand for their services.

Steve Arnett, chief operating officer of Nanaimo Youth Services Association, said client numbers remained steady. The organization assists youth aged 15-30 find work and offers training programs, such as Bladerunners, to help them gain employment skills.

But there are good indicators things are improving. In the last few weeks, a number of help wanted signs have popped up in the windows of many retail and small businesses and employers are also starting to gear up for Christmas season hiring.

Arnett said the unemployment rate remains high for youth, especially those with less than a high school education.

Sandra Bistritz, director of Supporting Employment Transitions, said demand at SET has remained unchanged, but it’s decreased from two years ago when demand spiked.

“When the economic downturn happened, we were absolutely incredibly busy,” she said. “But compared to two years ago, we aren’t as busy and it’s been fairly stable numbers for the last six months.”

Bistritz said it’s taking time to find work, but people are finding jobs and hiring is taking place in all sectors. She said it’s about networking, putting your best foot forward and having the tools for job searches ready.

SET provides several services including workshops, one-on-one job coaching and access to the office for job searches. Some eligibility requirements are needed for programs funded through the B.C. Labour Market Agreement.

The organization hosted the SET Hiring Fair Thursday afternoon at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, with 42 booths, which included employers, training institutes and recruiters.

Christopher White was among job seekers at the hiring fair. He’s been unemployed for several weeks and was hopeful the one-on-one interaction would make him stand out to employers.

He said the government needs to do more to help job seekers in the province.

“Christy Clark needs to step up in her position and know about the job situation in B.C. and she needs to develop more alleyways and roads to help people in my position or my situation to get the work they want and have a full-time job with a good benefit package,” said White.

Andrew Tysdal, from Ladysmith, has been unemployed for a year.

He worked as a pressman for 10 years and after he got laid off, decided to retrain and find a new career path. He’s taking a number of short certificate classes to gain skills employers might want.

“I have so many useful skills I can get into a lot of different fields,” said Tysdal.

Tysdal said one of the obstacles is trying to schedule daycare for his children to work with an employer’s schedule, especially on Saturdays. His wife works part-time and if he needs to work on the weekends, there isn’t anywhere his children can go for care.