The Prince Edward Island government announced Thursday that it has created 850 new jobs on the Island in the information technology and aerospace and bioscience fields.

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Increasing population means the actual unemployment rate hasn't dropped, says Innovation Minister Allan Campbell.

Despite those efforts, the Island's unemployment has gone up over the last 17 months.

Premier Robert Ghiz and Innovation and Advanced Learning Minister Allan Campbell provided an update on the Island Prosperity Strategy, which was launched in 2009, to industry and the public Thursday. A highlight of the announcement was the status of the BioCommons manufacturing facility in Charlottetown. The 32,000-square-foot building is almost complete and it is fully rented.

Tenants include

  • Island Abbey: manufacturing space for the Honibe line of honey products
  • Tetragenx: new product development, manufacturing and formulation of medicated animal feeds
  • Ceapro: production, research and development space for human and animal health products
  • Omniactives: nutritional ingredients to healthcare and food industries

Campbell said the unemployment rate hasn't dropped because there are more people in the job market.

"One good reason is population growth. You know, unemployment rate is a percentage of your population and we've led the Atlantic region in population growth, and that's reflected," he said.

"The other is that we certainly have a higher labour force participation rate than we have in the past."

Also, Campbell said that not all the new jobs went to Islanders. Some employees were brought in to fill positions.

While the Island's population has been growing, that can't explain what's happened to the unemployment rate over the last 17 months. According to Statistics Canada, the provincial workforce has remained steady around 80,000 people since January 2010.

Meanwhile, in the first five months of 2010 the unemployment rate averaged 10.2 per cent, and 11.5 per cent in the first five months of this year.

Campbell said he believes the province is still on target to reach its goal of 2,000 new jobs by 2014.