North

Yukon unemployment rate hits record low of 2.3 per cent

New jobs numbers from the Yukon Bureau of Statistics paint a rosy picture — the territory's labour force has grown since last year, and unemployment has dropped.

'I would say we're moving into a very strong cycle,' says economic development minister Ranj Pillai

Dozens of people turned out for a career fair last month in Whitehorse, to apply for jobs and ask about future opportunities at the Eagle Gold mine project north of Mayo. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

New jobs numbers from the Yukon Bureau of Statistics paint a rosy picture — the territory's labour force has grown since last year, and unemployment has hit a record low.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in August was 2.3 per cent, down significantly from a year ago, when it was at 7.4 per cent.

Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate also dropped over that period, but not as dramatically — from 7 per cent in August 2016 to 6.2 per cent in August 2017.

The territory has seen a number of big capital construction projects this year, including the Whistle Bend continuing care facility in Whitehorse. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

The number of people working in Yukon is also up this year, with an average year-to-date employment figure of 21,088 people. That's 1,388 more workers than Yukon had, on average, over the same period last year.

The Yukon economy — heavily dependent on mining — sagged in recent years, as commodity prices fell. Mines closed and exploration spending also dropped. 

This year, however, mineral exploration picked up substantially in Yukon. Exploration spending was expected to be more than double what it was last year.  

The territory's economic development minister, Ranj Pillai, calls the new jobs numbers "pretty substantial", and says they show things are turning around.

Economic Development Minister Ranj Pillai Pillai says the mining, tourism, agriculture, and technology sectors are all seeing growth. (CBC)

"I would say we're moving into a very strong cycle," said Pillai. "The key will be to focus on diversity, and to try to stay ahead of all the major challenges that will come with it." 

Pillai says mining continues to be a major focus in Yukon, but other sectors are also growing — such as tourism, agriculture, and technology. 

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