Nunavut’s unemployment rate has gone down from last year, but it is still more than twice the Canadian national average.
Statistics Canada reported this month that 500 new positions were created in Nunavut within the past 12 months, which was one reason why the territory’s jobless rate was 16.6 per cent this June, down 2.6 percentage points from the same time last year.
“It has come down by a larger amount and larger percentage than what we’ve seen in the other territories,” Francois Picotte, a senior economist with the Nunavut government, told CBC News on Monday.
The Northwest Territories’ unemployment rate was 8.1 per cent in June, up just 0.4 percentage points from last year, while Yukon’s jobless rate declined 1.6 percentage points over the past year to 6.3 per cent.
All three territories, Nunavut, Yukon and Northwest Territories, saw employment gains in the past year, according to Statistics Canada.
But at 16.6 per cent, Nunavut’s latest unemployment rate is still above the national rate of 7.4 per cent.
Lack of qualifications a factor
Picotte said there are a number of reasons behind Nunavut’s high jobless rate, including local applicants’ lack of qualifications.
“There might be a bit of a mismatch between the jobs that are available and the skills available to fulfill these positions,” he said.
Lori Idlout, who runs a small construction company in Iqaluit, said she tries to hire trades people and other workers within Nunavut as much as possible, but sometimes local applicants do not have the necessary skills.
“The biggest impact on us is the lack of education that goes with needing to have a job here in Nunavut,” she said.
Another issue, Idlout said, is finding employees who will actually show up for work.
“With the construction season being a short season, we tend to have to need a lot of hours to keep the work going,” she said.
“There are times when guys don’t show up on a regular basis, so we tend to have to really need reliable guys to keep showing.”
Idlout said she has had to fly workers in from outside the territory, although she added that she does so as a last resort.