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‘Tis the season for higher employment numbers

NWT’s strong employment and unemployment numbers are boosted by seasonal employment, according to an analyst from the NWT Bureau of Statistics.

Jeff Barrichello, economic statistician with the NWT Bureau of Statistics, says the higher employment rate around this time of year can be attributed to seasonal employment, with students returning home to jobs and firefighters hired in the summer to manage wildfires in the territory.

May was a good month for youth, as people aged 15 to 24 saw the highest employment rate — 51.9 per cent — in the NWT since 2003. 

The territory as a whole saw its employment rate increase and its unemployment rate decrease, which sits at 4.5 per cent in May, compared to the 10-year average for May, 7.5 per cent. 

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That’s the lowest unemployment rate in the country. The NWT also had the lowest unemployment rate of any jurisdiction in Canada in March, according to the NWT Bureau of Statistics.

The NWT has seen its employment rate rise while its unemployment rate drops continually since August, when employment reached a peak in the pandemic.

Despite having above national averages for the past few months, the NWT’s economy has been struggling, seeing the largest percent drop in GDP in Canada in 2020

Barrichello says the closure of Ekati for a large chunk of 2020 hurt the NWT’s economy, adding that good employment numbers don’t always lead to a stronger economy.

For example, if prices for diamonds go down — like they did during the pandemic — a company’s profits will take a hit, hurting the territory’s GDP, but the same number of workers are still employed.

Barrichello added we won’t be able to tell the impact the employment numbers may be having on the economy until the summer is over.

“Come September, October, November if the numbers remain high, then I’d start to pay attention, that would be more a sign of growth in the economy,” he said.

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