Lots of jobs, little housing

The Yukon enjoys the lowest unemployment rate in the country and record spending in retail sales, according to new numbers released by the territory's statistics branch. Yukon's unemployment rate was just 3.6 per cent in January.

The Yukon enjoys the lowest unemployment rate in the country and record spending in retail sales, according to new numbers released by the territory’s statistics branch.

Yukon’s unemployment rate was just 3.6 per cent in January – less than half the national average of 7.8 per cent.

With a seasonally-adjusted labour force of 19,300, that leaves 700 Yukoners unemployed. That means that 100 jobs were created between December and January alone. And 700 jobs were created over the past year.

Retail sales hit a record high in 2010 of more than $576 million. That’s an increase of nearly $50 million, or 9.4 per cent, from 2009. That’s also well above national sales growth of 5.1 per cent.

In December alone, Yukon’s retail sales set another high of $55.8 million, up 11 per cent from $50.3 million one year earlier.

Yukon’s population grew by 827 people, or by 2.4 per cent, from June of 2009 to June of 2010. This is largely due to an influx of 782 people in Whitehorse.

Yukon’s communities only grew by small numbers, if at all. Watson Lake’s population grew by just eight people. Dawson City’s population shrunk by 13.

Both communities are the focus of expensive new hospital-building projects, which are based on the assumption these regional hubs will swell in size as the mining boom picks up.

An economic forecast by the Conference Board of Canada, released yesterday, offers the most recent numbers on Whitehorse’s hot housing market, where the average selling price of a house hit $378,900 in the third quarter of 2010.

That’s up from $368,800 during the second quarter of 2010, according to the statistics branch. That, in turn, is up 15.4 per cent from one year earlier, when the average house sold for $319,600

The total value of home sales during 2010 second quarter was $69.8 million.

Whitehorse’s vacancy rate for 2010 averaged out to be just 1.1 per cent. In December, the most recent month available, it was 1.3 per cent, with a median rent of $775.

Faced with a lot shortage in Whitehorse, the number of building permits issued to developers in 2010 dropped by 16.8 per cent compared to one year ago.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.