The municipality’s unemployment rate in May is a shadow of its former self.
A year ago, our jobless rate was at 12.5 per cent. But this May, it sat at seven per cent, according to the latest federal figures.
The seven per cent rate is unchanged from April, and continues to trend below the federal and provincial rates of 9.3 and 8.2 per cent respectively.
Director of Economic Development Stuart McFadden said the strong numbers are a reflection of where the municipality was at before the pandemic.
“Prior to COVID, our industries and businesses were really strong. We had been running below provincial (unemployment) rates. Coming out of the pandemic, it’s maintaining,” he said.
Mayor Darrin Canniff said although the recovery is real, not all sectors are recovering at the same rate and more work needs to be done.
“What these figures tell me is that council’s direction to support community growth through everything from business development to infrastructure through housing are moving Chatham-Kent in the right direction,” he said in a media release.
McFadden credits the positive job figures to the local businesses, as well as the diversity of industry and business now in Chatham-Kent.
“I believe our base is more diverse today than it once was. We learned from the past. Having all your eggs in once basket is not a good plan,” McFadden said, referring to how tied to the automotive sector Chatham-Kent was and when Navistar left town, it had a far-reaching impact on the local economy.
“We’re trending towards smaller boutique-like manufacturing shops. We’re seeing a nice diversification of the economy,” he said.
McFadden said in addition to the unemployment rate, a number of other key indicators are moving in the right direction.
“The number of employed persons has increased by 8,000 year over year while the number of unemployed has decreased from 5,800 to 3,700 during the same time,” he said. “We continue to hear from employers who are having challenges finding a labour force that matches their needs. By continuing to promote local growth, especially in housing, employers can bring in the workers they need to remain competitive in their market.”
Chatham-Kent Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire said economic prosperity is a top priority of municipal council during this term.
“Prosperity provides the resources we need to achieve our other goals of increasing our population and providing a healthy and safe community where we can focus on people and culture and environmental sustainability,” he said. “It’s all part of moving our community in the direction we need it to go.”