Some industries still not reached pre-pandemic job numbers: GNWT

The number of tourists coming to see the Aurora Borealis was far lower this year.(Supplied by : NWT Tourism.)
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The GNWT says the territory’s job recovery has happened unevenly, with some of the NWT’s biggest money making industries not having recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

“Although jobs were lost at the beginning of the pandemic last year, employment has recovered unevenly with increased jobs in mining, wholesale and retail, administrative and management services and public sector administration including health care and social assistance, and educational services,” Todd Sasaki, a spokesperson with the Department of Finance, said in an email.

“Meanwhile hard-hit sectors of the economy, such as accommodation and food services, construction, transportation and warehousing have not reached pre-pandemic levels,” he added.

The NWT had the lowest unemployment rate in the country in May and is well below its own average for unemployment rate compared to previous years.

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Unemployment was at 4.5 per cent, compared to the 10-year average for May, which sits at 7.5 per cent.

That’s down from a peak of 10.8 per cent in August. Employment has been on a consistent incline since then, according to the NWT Bureau of Statistics’ report.

Jeff Barrichello, economic statistician with the NWT Bureau of Statistics, says the better numbers can be in part 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. 

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

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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.

Sasaki said recovery in the hardest impacted industries — like mining and tourism — will depend on how the global economy recovers.

The biggest factors impacting those industries moving forward will be global lockdowns and border closures, reluctance to travel by air, and reduced international demand for NWT exports like diamonds and aurora tours, according to Sasaki.

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