The region’s diverse economy can be thanked for 1,100 new jobs in October and a two-per-cent drop in unemployment in the last year, the head of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce said Thursday.
And Maurice Hindle believes those numbers, released with the province’s monthly jobs update, prove the city’s economy is one of the strongest in B.C. and Canada.
“Relative to the rest of Canada and within B.C., we’re well positioned here,” said Hindle.
Hindle’s comments mirrored those of Jobs Minister Pat Bell, who presented the report to the media Friday morning.
As a whole, B.C. lost 11,000 jobs in October but kept pace with overall jobs figures across the country despite the decline. He said the province ranks third in Canada for employment.
Kamloops’ numbers are among the strongest, with 1,100 new jobs last month and an unemployment rate of 4.4 per cent, he said. The unemployment rate a year ago was 6.4 per cent.
“I think Kamloops is very well positioned,” said Bell, citing the mining industry and its spin-off jobs as one component for success.
Other industries of note are tourism, technology, forestry and transportation. Combined, they make for a strong and diverse economy, he said.
“I expect to see (its economy) continue to grow.”
Hindle said Kamloops also has a stable manufacturing and small business sector, Thompson Rivers University and several government offices.
“We have a number of different influences. There is a very diverse base here for the Kamloops region,” he said.
For mining, New Gold recently came online and Highland Valley Copper has several construction projects underway. Spokesman Mark Freberg said the mine has hired 350 additional staff to complete them on top of its 1,300 employees.
All these people need to eat, shop and educate their children, which is where the spin-off jobs come in, he said.
“These are legitimate jobs,” said Freberg.
Just because the unemployment rate is down doesn’t mean it’s easy to find work. Danny Reed has begun job hunting after spending six months on medical EI because of a repetitive stress injury from working in a veneer plant.
He worked at the plant for a year after struggling to hold a job. He said there are few opportunities on the board at Service Canada, and most of the postings are for job training.
“I don’t think there is really any more work out there,” said Reed.
From his experience, the B.C. Liberals’ Jobs Plan isn’t working. If it was, there would be more work, he said.
“Unemployment was six per cent a year ago, but I don’t see much of a difference,” said Reed.
New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston doesn’t believe the Liberals’ Jobs Plan is working either. He called it as an expensive advertising campaign.
Canada’s recent strong jobs performance slowed to a crawl in October, as the economy managed a meager 1,800 new jobs, not enough to nudge the unemployment rate off 7.4 per cent.
The October result brings the total of jobs created in Canada over the past 12 months to 229,000, all full-time, for a gain of 1.3 per cent, slightly below the growth rate in the economy.
Statistics Canada said the biggest loss last month came in agriculture, which shed about 16,000 workers, while the biggest gain was in education services, which added 16,200. There was little change in the key industries of manufacturing, construction and natural resources.
Overall, the economy’s goods producing