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Regional jobless rate climbs slightly to 9.6 per cent

Unemployment in the Peace Region and Fort Nelson has climbed steadily since September, passing the provincial and national jobless rates in the fall of 2015.
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Unemployment has climbed steadily in Northeast B.C. since September 2015.

Northeast B.C.'s jobless rate climbed to 9.6 per cent last month, nearly four points higher than the rate this time last year as the region continues to struggle with the downturn in oil prices.

The number of employed people inched upward slightly to 39,400 , an increase of around 100 employed people over last month.

Unemployment in the Peace Region and Fort Nelson has climbed steadily since September, passing the provincial and national jobless rates in the fall of 2015.

Northeast B.C. once again has the province's highest regional unemployment rate, ahead of North Coast and Nechako (8.5) and Thompson-Okanagan (7.8). B.C.'s overall unemployment rate is 6.1 per cent, behind Saskatchewan (6.0) and Manitoba (5.9), while Canada's rate is 7.4 per cent.  

Unemployment sat at 5.9 per cent in the Peace Region in May 2015.

While in a boom period as recently as late 2014, the region is now grappling with low oil prices, which affect upstream natural gas development.

The forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying and oil and gas sectors added around 2,600 jobs in B.C. last month, a gain of 5.2 per cent after declines of 6.2 per cent the previous month.  

Prior to 2015, the region saw its highest unemployment rate in 2009, which averaged 7.0 per cent following the 2008 financial crisis.

According to Statistics Canada's monthly Labour Force Survey, Canada's overall employment changed very little in May, adding around 14,000. It notes fewer people are searching for work, which pushed unemployment to its lowest rate since July 2015.  

The survey also notes the impact of severe wildfires on employment in Alberta.

That province lost 24,000 jobs in May, with 12,000 of those coming from the natural resource sector. Wildfires around Fort McMurray contributed to those losses, with oil and gas infrastructure shut down while crews worked to contain the blaze.

reporter@dcdn.ca