Despite a temporary stabilization in March and April, Yukon’s unemployment rate is up again according to the latest figures.
As of June 2015, 8.3 per cent of Yukoners are unemployed, up from 6.7 per cent in May.
It is above the Canadian average, set at 6.8 per cent this month.
This is in line with what has been happening in the past 12 months, showing a steady increase month after month, said Bishnu Saha, director of the Yukon Bureau of Statistics.
The rate jumped in May, mostly because of the Cantung mine layoff, he said.
On June 1, North American Tungsten temporarily laid off 80 employees at the Cantung mine, citing a low tungsten price and operational issues.
“Most employees are located in the Yukon,” noted Saha, adding that 80 people was quite a big number for the Yukon.
The labour force in the territory – residents over 15 who either have jobs or looked for work in the past four weeks – was at 20,600 in June.
The statistics bureau adjusts the unemployment rate to take into account seasonal fluctuations, said Saha, to prevent big disparities between winter and summer months. “If we look at unadjusted numbers, the magnitude of change is less,” he said.
Adjusted numbers show 300 more people were looking for work in June, whereas non-adjusted only show 100 people.
“The unadjusted job number usually increases in June, which did not happen as expected,” said Saha.
Diversifying the economy could help reduce the Yukon’s dependence on mineral prices, said Josh Clark, past chair of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce.
But more importantly, the Yukon government should be doing more business with local companies, he said.
“In times like this, when you have a significant unemployment rate, and you have an opportunity to inject consumer dollars in the local economy to ensure sustainability… it needs to be done in a strong manner,” he said.
“The objectives and the goals there significantly outweigh the negative benefits of buying local – I don’t think there are any negative benefits of buying local,” he said.
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