ANALYSIS: Yukon’s job market by the numbers

At only 3.2 per cent, the Yukon has the lowest unemployment rate in the country – but what does that really mean in terms of what is available for the average Yukoner seeking employment or looking to change jobs? What jobs are available and how much do those jobs actually pay?

To try to understand this from a real-world perspective, this News reporter accessed the Yukon Work Information Network (YuWIN) – arguably the go-to site for Yukoners when it comes to job hunting within the territory – and painstakingly combed through each job posting from Monday, March 4 to the morning of Monday, March 18, classifying each position by type of job, if it provided full or part-time hours, if it was permanent or seasonal, if it was within Whitehorse or in the communities, if it was a private or public sector and what wage range it fell into.

Overall, of positions with listed salaries, 41 per cent of available jobs paid $20 an hour or less, with an average wage of $16 an hour. If you assume – which is likely – those unlisted wages in hospitality hold at the average, that pay range would make up 44 per cent of all available positions advertised.

This means that, based on the average salary of $16 an hour, the lion’s share of available jobs offer a full-time worker less than $ 31,000 a year at median before taxes.

Posts that advertised multiple openings for the same position were counted as one post and these numbers reflect the number of employers seeking these positions and what kind of of positions are available, rather than purely the number of those positions available.

Of 165 counted positions during this two week period, 81 per cent were full-time and 19 per cent were part-time. Of the total positions, 50 of them – which works out to 30 per cent – were seasonal or temporary.

Concurrently, data from the YuWIN website – provided by the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, which has recently taken over the site – shows that the most popular search term for the last month within the job bank is “part-time,” indicating that many people are looking for part-time positions.

“Cook,” “Summer,” “Restaurant” and “mining” were also popular search terms.

Hospitality and tourism – which included jobs like server or cook, as well as positions like tour guides – accounted for the majority of available full-time work on YuWIN, at 37 per cent. Trades and labour jobs came in next, at 16 per cent of all available work. The rest of the positions were spread out over administration (which included jobs like secretary or accountant), health care, child and education services (such as nanny or counsellor) and retail positions.

Around 92 per cent of the positions in hospitality and tourism, as well as in trades, were full-time. Of all positions, 36 per cent were temporary or seasonal in hospitality and 28 per cent in trades.

According to the listings, eight per cent of jobs in hospitality made under $15 an hour, followed by 23 per cent at between $15 to $20 an hour. Eight per cent of these positions paid more than $20 an hour – around four or five jobs – and these were all managerial and specialized positions.

A large number – around 40 per cent – of these positions, however, were actually listed without any salary information at all. The Yukon Bureau of Statistics lists the median average pay for jobs of this type in 2018 as $16 an hour, in keeping with the pay range in the majority of positions in this field with disclosed salaries.

Assuming this trend holds, one could assume that the jobs in this field that make between $15 and $20 an hour is actually closer to around 60 per cent.

In trades, no positions were posted for between minimum and $15 an hour. Again, 60 per cent of these positions had no listed salaries. Labourers – included in trades – are listed with the Yukon Bureau of Statistics as making an average of $20.17 an hour, while full tradespeople – electricians for examples – made an average of $29 an hour and those in maintenance and equipment trades made $41.03 an hour as a median wage.

Most of the positions were to be found in the Whitehorse-area; 42 positions – roughly 25 per cent — were spread out across the various communities, including Dawson City, Carmacks and Beaver Creek.

Around 17 per cent of all advertised positions on YuWIN during this time period were with some form of government, either municipal, First Nation, territorial or federal.

These statistical income disparities are significant when you consider the cost of living in the North, particularly housing. Kristina Craig of the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition (YAPC) said the standard for “affordable housing” is considered to be 30 per cent of a person’s income (although the Yukon government, as the News reported earlier, no longer uses this as a standard, but measures things along a spectrum).

At the 30 per cent measure, a single person earning $30,000 a year needs housing priced at $750 a month to afford it. Given Yukon Housing statistics which claim the current going rate for a one-bedroom in the territory is $950 a month, there appears to be a gap in what a large class of people could be making and what they need to be making.

The Yukon Bureau of Statistics notes that 33.5 per cent of the population of the territory makes $30,000 a year or less according to the 2016 census.

Craig said YAPC does not keep records on whether the people who use its services are employed or not, but noted that the working poor are a particularly difficult demographic to reach.

“We struggle to support working poor people,” she said. “Partly because they are working… they’re busy.”

“We know that people in (this demographic) are having to make hard choices about what they can have for food, where they can live.”

The Yukon Chamber of Commerce did not respond to multiple phone calls asking for comment on this story.

Contact Lori Fox at lori.fox@yukon-news.com

A Note on the Methodology:

It should be noted that these are rough numbers, not precise ones, and reflect the number of postings counted, not the number of jobs advertised in the posting; some posting listed multiple openings for the same position, which are are not counted in this non-professional survey.

Jobs that were posted within YuWIN but that were actually for jobs outside of the territory, including those in Atlin, B.C., were also not counted.

In determining where to place a position that had a wage range (say, $20 to $30 an hour) the median range was used to class it.

Positions which were “Other” comprise positions which were difficult to class. During this time period they were multiple postings for various positions within the Canada Post mail system, which are classed here and make up the majority of this portion of the data, as well as a few other “odd” jobs.

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect dates for when the data was collected. The reporter looked at job postings from Monday, March 4 to the morning of Monday, March 18

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