Unemployment in Northeast B.C. jumped two percentage points in 2016.
The region finished the year with a 10.5 per cent unemployment rate in December, up from 8.5 per cent at the beginning of the year, according to Statistic Canada’s Labour Force Survey released Friday.
The region had the highest unemployment in B.C. next to the Kootenays and Kelowna regions, which saw rates of 8.8 and 8.5 per cent, respectively.
Unemployment here has risen steadily since January and February 2015, when the rate was too low to be reported, as a downturn in Canada’s oil and gas industry continues.
The province ended the year with an average unemployment rate of six per cent, seeing its biggest job gains in agriculture (9.9%), public administration (7.9%), as well as the finance (5.7%), construction (4.9%), and retail (4.8%) sectors.
Labour Force data also shows a year-over-year jump in employment in the province’s forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, and oil and gas sectors. There were 50,800 people employed in those industries in 2016, up from 48,300 in 2015 – a gain of 5.2 per cent.
A number of significant projects are expected to move forward and begin construction in the region in 2017, including:
• Pembina Pipeline’s $235-million Northeast B.C. expansion project
• AltaGas’s $85- to $95-million Townsend Phase 2 expansion• AltaGas’s $125- to $135-million North Pine natural gas liquids facility