Unemployment levels peaked at 10.9 per cent in the Yukon this April making the territory second only to Newfoundland and Labrador in terms of people looking for work.
The job-rich territory hasn’t seen unemployment rates like this in years, and it baffles Yukon Chamber of Commerce president Rick Karp.
“There are jobs out there,” he said. “It’s a bit of an anomaly.”
By comparison, the national unemployment rate in April was 8.1 per cent.
Karp doesn’t understand why the unemployment rate is so high. He has had several businesses contact the chamber to say they have job openings. And the YuWin online job bank had a record number of listings in April.
Last month, 225 jobs were posted on the YuWin site, said executive director Grant Bossenberry. It’s not for a lack of jobs out there, he said.
But Carol Corbet at Yukon’s Employment Central Office has noticed the spike in the number of people wandering in and looking for a job.
This April, 1,900 people walked through Employment Central’s doors, almost double the number of people looking for a job in March, she said.
Compared to last year, it’s an increase of about 100 job seekers.
Bossenberry believes the increase in the unemployment rate could be a result of people coming in from Outside to take mining-related jobs.
“There’s a lot of activity in mining right now and they’re bringing in a lot of people from out of territory,” he said.
“It may also be that businesses are posting, but they’re not finding successful candidates,” he said.
Gord Brown, senior information officer at the Yukon Bureau of Statistics, agrees people from Outside may be taking some of the Yukon’s jobs. He also gives another explanation for the unemployment rate.
There’s an increase in the amount of people vying for the same jobs, he said, explaining that over the last month the Yukon’s workforce has increased by 200 people.
Part of that is people re-entering the workforce after taking the winter months off. Another reason is an increase in the number of people moving to the Yukon, said Brown.
The territory’s vacancy rate, sitting at 1.7 per cent, is the lowest it’s ever been since the early ‘90s, he said.
The recession isn’t necessarily a reason for the higher unemployment rates, said Brown.
The Yukon’s economy quickly recovered after the economic downturn in 2009 and the construction and mining industries have been steadily rising since then, he said.
But the territory’s service sector has been hit hard, particularly the public service sector.
Government positions are being shed throughout the territory, but Brown couldn’t say which of the four levels of government is losing its workers.
However, the private sector has added jobs, said Brown.
The Yukon’s unemployment rate jumped in 2009 to 7.1 per cent from 4.4 per cent the year before and 4.7 per cent in 2007.
The Yukon’s Bureau of Statistics gathers its information from Statistics Canada.
Contact Vivian Belik at