For the fourth month in a row, the unemployment rate in Northeast British Columbia has been so low that they can’t be reported. The latest available data measures the rate through January and shows that collapsing oil and LNG prices have yet to have a big impact on employment in the region.
The unemployment rate for the Northeast has been listed as “not available” by BC Stats since October 2014, because Canada’s national statistical agency won’t release the data due to a “confidentiality threshold” set at 1,500 unemployed people to prevent “direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data,” according to the agency’s website.
Approximately 1,100 people are currently without jobs in the region. According to Labour Force Statistics (LFS) data. Of the region’s 41,600-strong labour force, approximately 40,500 are employed.
The latest official rate BC Stats released for the region was in September 2014, when it was listed at 4 per cent. The monthly LFS report by BC Stats uses data compiled by Statistics Canada. The data shows that there are more jobs than there are people willing to work.
That also means Northeast B.C. remains at full employment, which is reached when virtually everyone who is able and willing to work is employed.
Closing coal mines and tumbling oil and LNG prices have done little to reverse the region’s rising rate of employment. In each of the four months that the unemployment data has been withheld, the number of employed persons in the region has increased. Roughly 38,600 people were employed in Northeastern B.C. in October 2014, rising to 38,800 in November, 39,600 in December and 40,500 in January 2015.
According to a report from BC Stats in January 2015, the labour shortage has been a driving force behind a number of trends: Northeast B.C. grew the fastest in the province from 2013 to 2014,
While workers from across the province are moving north for jobs in large numbers, some employers fill job vacancies with temporary foreign workers. Blue Fuel Energy, for example, has said it might largely rely on workers from outside the region for the construction of a $2.5 billion natural-gas-to-gasoline refinery and methanol plant just outside of Chetwynd. There simply aren’t enough workers in the Peace Region, the company says.
“It’s a large project near by that is going to take away a big workforce,” he said, as a result the large plant may require the use of temporary foreign workers, which Puetter indicated is “something we are working with our engineering firms on because we don’t know where we are going to get the people from.”