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Guelph unemployment rate returns to pre-pandemic level

While numbers look optimistic, employers are encouraged to engage people who removed themselves from the labour market
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A snowy foggy day in Guelph. Anam Khan/GuelphToday file photo

Guelph’s unemployment rate has returned to its pre-pandemic state.

While employment numbers in Guelph decreased by almost 1,000 people last month, the city’s unemployment rate in October was 5.2 per cent, the lowest it has been this year according to the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin (WPBWWD).

Last October, Guelph’s unemployment rate was 8.3 per cent. In October of 2019, it was 5.7 per cent. 

Charlene Hofbauer, executive director of the WPBWWD said while the participation rate (people actively seeking work or working) in Guelph has fallen, it still remains over 70 per cent  and is one of the higher rates across the Canadian census metropolitan areas.  

While these numbers look optimistic, Hofbauer warns that employers need to think of ways to engage people as they remove themselves from the labour market. 

“Guelph’s unemployed workforce is currently 5,200 people and this will create challenges moving forward as employers continue to hire,” said Hofbauer.

“We need to think about how to re-engage some of those people who are not actively seeking work back into the labour force so that companies can continue to operate and even look at growing. With such a small talent pool, finding specialized skills or talent mixtures will continue to prove challenging for local employers.”

The top jobs posted on FindYourJob were material handlers, salespersons, service representatives, kitchen helpers, servers and home support workers. 

Hofbauer said many people removed themselves from the labour market with an extra 2,400 people in October no longer seeking work. She added that COVID likely played a role in some of the career decisions people made. 

“I think some of the workforces were looking at some changes in their lives pre-pandemic and I think the pandemic sped those things up,” said Hofbauer. 

“So I think some people were thinking about maybe starting a new career and when they were no longer able to work or when the environment got too stressful (thinking about our healthcare professionals) they decided to switch.”

Hofbauer said the majority of people not looking for work are retired.

“Sixty-nine per cent of the people who are not in the labour force and are not looking for work in Guelph are 55 and older,” said Hofbauer. “We've only got something like 31 per cent who are under 55.”

Hofbauer said those not looking for work or not in the labour force might either be students, parents who decided to stay at home or even people who feel discouraged because they can’t get a job in the field they choose. 

To compare with other cities, Barrie with a population of 181,900 has an unemployment rate of 5.3 per cent (6,800) and a participation rate of 70.6 per cent. Kingston has a population of 145,200 and an unemployment rate of 7.5 per cent (6,500) and a participation rate of 60.1 per cent. 

“Kingston has similar numbers of unemployed but as you see, its participation rate is 10 per cent lower than Guelph's meaning more people are not even looking for work in Kingston,” said Hofbauer.

“In October, 57,900 people were not looking for work in Kingston versus 41,600 in Guelph.”