The unemployment rate in greater Kelowna fell in August, but only because hundreds of people stopped looking for work and took themselves out of the labour pool.
The jobless rate in the Central Okanagan dropped from 10 to nine per cent, according to national employment information released by Statistics Canada.
While the decline may appear to show the economy recovery from COVID-19 is continuing, in fact there were actually fewer people employed in Kelowna last month than in July.
The ranks of those with jobs fell from 99,200 to 98,900.
But the unemployment rate still declined because the labour pool fell by 1,400 people, from 110,200 to 108,800.
Since the region’s population increased by 400 people from July to August, the decline in the labour pool is not likely explained by people moving away. Instead, most of those 1,400 people likely stopped looking for work and removed themselves from the labour pool.
The drop of 500 local jobs between July and August in greater Kelowna was in sharp contrast to the 4,000 jobs that were gained between June and July.
Still, at nine per cent, the local unemployment rate is better than the national rate of 10.2 per cent. And it’s lower than in Vancouver (12.8 per cent) and Victoria (10.3 per cent).
Of the B.C. cities whose labour situations are tracked by Statistics Canada, only Abbotsford-Mission has a lower rate than Kelowna (8.2 per cent).
Nationally, 246,000 jobs were added in August, compared to the 419,000 that were added in July.
It was the fourth consecutive month for employment gains after heavy job losses associated with COVID-19-related lockdowns imposed earlier this spring.
In a note, RBC Economics said: “To be clear, labour markets are still very weak. Employment is still down more than a million from February, even after the August gain.
“The unemployment rate fell to 10.2 per cent, but that is still above the peak rate during the 2008-09 recession,” the note said.
Here is the unemployment rate for greater Kelowna in recent months:
August - nine per cent
July - 10 per cent
June - 10.2 per cent
May - 9.6 per cent
April - 8.1 per cent
March - 5.9 per cent