Kelowna’s director of business and entrepreneurial development, Robert Fine, seen here on the left at a UDI panel discussion about the Okanagan’s economy last year with the EDC’s Corie Griffiths and local MLA Norm Letnick, says he feels the city’s efforts to stimulate the local business climate are paying off an that is reflected by the lower unemployment rate. -Image credit: Barry Gerding/Black Press

Central Okanagan unemployment rate second lowest in country

At 3.3 per cent in December, it was only bettered by Guelph, Ont. among Canada’s 33 largest centres

The Central Okanagan finished 2018 with the second lowest unemployment rate of the country’s 33 largest urban centres.

The 3.3 per cent rate for the Kelowna area was only bested in December by Guelph, Ont., which recorded a 2.3 per cent unemployment rate.

In Kelowna’s case the rate dropped more than half a percentage point and in a surprising showing was lower than Vancouver’s 4.4 per cent rate.

“Normally we are about a point above Vancouver,” said Robert Fine, the City of Kelowna’s director of business and entrepreneurial development.

Fine said city’s December rate appears to be a reflection of an uptick in construction in the city—several large construction projects started in 2018—and moves made last year by the to help help stimulate the business climate locally.

“It points to the fact the economy plays a significant role in what will happen with employment,” said Fine.

Overall, the unemployment rate in the Central Okanagan has dropped in the last year by nearly 50 per cent. In December 2017, it stood at 6.2 per cent said Fine. It was six per cent last August.

Fine said while there was a period of uncertainty among many businesses earlier in the year about how strong the local economy was, that appear to have lift as 2018 came to an end.

“Nobody’s jumping up and down in terms of what they think the long-term will hold, but for now I think many (business people) are feeling better,” he said.

Nationally, the unemployment rate fell to 5.7 per cent, the lowest rate since comparable date became available 42 years ago.

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