Norfolk jobless rate 8.9%

Jill Halyk is executive director of the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie. Brian Thompson / Brantford Expositor file photo

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In Norfolk, the local jobless rate rose to 8.9 per cent in September, up four percentage points from the 4.9 per cent estimated for the same month in 2017, according to estimates released by Statistics Canada on Friday.

The national unemployment rate dropped to 5.9 per cent in September after an estimated 63,000 predominantly part-time jobs were created. The increase reverses a loss in part-time work a month earlier.

Ontario’s jobless rate was also 5.9 per cent last month.

While the national and provincial unemployment rate statistics are released monthly, Norfolk’s numbers come out every three months.

A deeper look at Norfolk’s numbers show a mixed picture year over year.

“People had enough confidence in the Norfolk economy to join the labour force, which includes people working and looking for work,” said Jill Halyk, executive director of the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie. “It’s safe to assume that some people working part-time a year ago moved into full-time positions.

“But not everyone joining the labour force found work, causing the unemployment rate to climb so the news overall is mixed.”

The Norfolk labour force grew by 1,200 people over the last 12 months and the number of full-time jobs grew the same number. However, 1,300 part-time jobs were lost, she added.

Full-time work accounted for 86 per cent of Norfolk jobs in September with part-time jobs accounting for the balance.

In Brantford-Brant, the job market shows signs of stability but a shrinking labour force and lack of job applicants are concerns, said Halyk.

“Local business of all kinds are having a hard time replacing retiring workers and they say they’re not getting applicants for openings,” she said.

“Manufacturers continue to have a strong need for employees at different skill levels, from general labourer up to skilled trades.”

Visits to 10 companies during the fourth annual Manufacturing Day tour showed that all are looking for employees and most have a shortage of applicants, Halyk said.

“Our research shows that job seekers sometime lack confidence in their own abilities and experience, thinking they shouldn’t apply if they don’t meet every single requirement asked for in a job ad,” Halyk said. “Three out of four businesses say they’re willing to train people to gain those skills.”

The number of people in Brantford-Brant’s labour force – those either working or looking for work – has shrunk by 3,200 since September 2017, largely due to retirements, Halyk said.

Meanwhile, the Brantford-Brant unemployment rate was 5.8 per cent in September, up from five per cent in August. An estimated 4,200 people were unemployed in September, almost identical to the number from one year earlier, figures provided by Statistics Canada say.

The planning board is one of 26 non-profit organizations funded through the Ontario government that play a leadership role in labour force planning.