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Region boasts lowest unemployment in province according to October's data

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Newly released statistics show the region’s unemployment rate in October was the lowest in the province, but still much higher than the pre-pandemic rate in late 2019.

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Four County Labour Market Planning Board numbers released Friday show the unemployment rate for the Stratford Bruce Peninsula Economic Region decreased by 1.5 per cent in October to 6.4 per cent.

That trend was mirrored by the rest of the province which fell 1.1 per cent for an unemployment rate of 9.9 per cent in Ontario.

Net employment in the region increased by 3,900 jobs. However, that is because the 400 full-time jobs that were lost were offset by a gain of 4,200 part-time jobs.

Jobs in construction increased by more than 1,900 and 800 jobs were added in agriculture.

Wholesale and retail trade jobs increased by 1,800, but jobs in accommodation and food services fell by 600. Jobs in finance, insurance, real estate and rental and leasing fell by 500.

Statistics Canada has recently updated the underutilization rates for each economic region. The underutilization rate is meant to offer a more complete picture of the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market because it includes those who were unemployed, those who were not in the labour force but wanted a job and did not look for one, and those who remained employed but lost all or the majority of their usual work hours.

The most recent underutilization rate reported in September of this year for the Stratford-Bruce Peninsula region is 12.1 per cent, which remains higher than the underutilization rate in September 2019, which was 10.1 per cent.

“While we want to be cautious about using these data to indicate complete economic recovery, a low underutilization rate, compared to over 37 per cent in April 2020, does suggest that conditions in the local labour market are improving as more people have returned to work,” said Gemma Mendez-Smith, executive director of the planning board in a media release. “We will continue to track these data as they become available, so we can monitor the broad impact of COVID-19 on our local
workforce.”

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In December 2019, the unemployment rate for the Stratford-Bruce Peninsula Economic Region was 2.7%, the lowest rate in the province at the time. The unemployment rate for the region reached 9.3 per cent in May as pandemic shutdown measures were in effect.

The planning board is asking those who live and work in Bruce, Grey, Huron and Perth counties to fill out a confidential and anonymous survey related to their experiences with employment, precarious work, financial demands and physical/mental health challenges resulting from the pandemic so they can better track the effect of COVID-19 in the region.

The survey can be found by visiting the Four County Labour Market Planning Board website at www.planningboard.ca.

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