Kelowna ended 2016 with unemployment rate of 8.9%

Latest numbers from Statistics Canada show the province’s jobless rate in December was 5.8 per cent, below the national average of 6.9.

But it's a different story in the Metropolitan Area of Kelowna, which includes West Kelowna, Lake Country, and Peachland, where the rate went up one-tenth of a point in December to 8.9 per cent.

Vancouver and Victoria saw its rate unchanged, with 5.1 per cent and 5.0 per cent, respectively.

Kelowna started the year with an unemployment rate of 7.6 per cent in January, which dipped down to 7.3 per cent by September, only to shoot up to 8.8 per cent by November.  

Central 1 Credit Union Chief Economist, Helmut Pastrick says it’s a trend that's been going on over the past few years.

“Kelowna area has seen fairly limited growth,” he says “essentially employment has flat lined, if you will, the employment rate has hovered anywhere between 5 to 6, up to 8 per cent”.

In January 2015, Kelowna’s unemployment rate was 3 per cent.

Pastrick says negative external conditions and the economic make-up of the area are to blame.

“The industry make-up has not been all that favourable. There are certainly some resource oriented industries in the Kelowna and surrounding area,” he says “The Kelowna area is certainly influenced by what occurs in other parts of the Okanagan”.

The current economic situation in Calgary has also affected Kelowna residents who work in the oil industry.

Pastrick does caution that the Stats Can survey is based on a sample size and there is a margin of error associated with their estimates.  

On a positive note, he predicts things will look better in 2017.

“We do expect to see some better performance in some of the resource sectors and also some better growth coming out of Alberta,” he says “The Canadian dollar will remain low, interest rates are expected to remain low as well, so I think the outlook is for the situation to improve”.