Victoria unemployment numbers rise, but employers are struggling for workers


Unemployment numbers from Statistics Canada revealed Victoria’s jobless rate has gone up from a month before. To start August, Victoria’s unemployment rate is at 4.6 per cent, up from 4.1 a month earlier, but still lower than the national rate. Business leaders in the capital say the high cost of living here is a problem, which is dwindling the talent pool available for employers. Andy Neal has more.

As low as 3.8 percent in March, Greater Victoria’s unemployment number spiked another half percent in July to 4.6 per cent.

But a search for jobs online, however, shows many opportunities are out there.

“Indeed has over 2,000 job listings for South Island, sort of Duncan and Malahat south,” Chemistry Consulting Partner Christine Willow said.

“If you go on Craigslist, there are 1,300 jobs listed.”

Help wanted signs are all over the city.

B.C. Transit continues to recruit drivers and restaurants are feeling the most heat to find help in the kitchen.

“Every second job is a cook, chef, kitchen staff,” Willow said.

“So that side of the business, the tourism industry, has huge demand.”

Downtown Victoria restaurant North of 48 temporarily closed its doors in late July after losing three cooks and were unable to replace them.

Café Mexico and Fuego restaurants in Market Square are short in the kitchen, too.

It is a big problem during a busy tourism season.

“There’s no response right now,” Café Mexico and Fuego Owner Brad Olberg said. “It’s like you might hear from one person in a week.”

“Particularly in restaurants, we’re finding a shortage of qualified cooks and those working in dishwasher and prep cooks,” Tourism Victoria President & CEO Paul Nursey said.

Nursey says there are driving factors, including past changes the federal government made to the temporary foreign worker program.

“But for seasonal work, casual work or perhaps those that are getting up the employment ladder, hopefully, there can be some flexibility in those policies,” Nursey said.

Not surprisingly, at the heart of the issue is the South Island housing shortage.

“Myself was about a year ago, you know, had to get some rental stuff going until we could actually find a home,” Downtown Victoria Business Association Executive Director Kerri Milton said.

“We’re in a difficult situation until we get this all balanced out.”

“Candidates, employees, turn down jobs that were offered here, that are at the senior management level because they can’t find housing if they’re coming from somewhere else,” Willow added.

“It’s two or three times what the cost is where they’ve been, or there’s no inventory. They can’t find any.”

Willow says monthly variances are to be expected.

The time to start worrying is if jobless numbers continue to rise over the next six months.


Andy NealAndy Neal

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