Part-time is the new full-time in Niagara

By Kris Dube / News Editor
March 11, 2014
Part-time is the new full-time in Niagara
Almost one in every five Niagara residents between the ages of 15 and 24 who want a job, cannot find one, according to a recent study released by Statistics Canada. Bullet News photo by Lisa Rind.

NIAGARA - Ontario gained 6,100 jobs in February, but a recent study from Statistics Canada shows 4,000 have been lost in Niagara over the last year.

The Niagara Workforce Planning Board shared the results, which indicate a dwindling workforce in the region that in Feb. 2013 was 214,500 people, but a year later in 2014 was down to 210,200.

The unemployment rate in Niagara after last month's numbers were crunched is at 9.2 per cent and last year at the same time it was 8.1 per cent.

Even though it appears the provincial and federal economies are improving in early 2014, the report says Niagara is not sharing in this prosperity.

Across Canada and Ontario, employment is up and unemployment is down and the participation rate has increased.

In Niagara – it's the opposite.

Unemployment for both youth and people over the age of 24 is rising and any gains in employment or participation have come exclusively from part-time work.

Since January, the number of part-time workers grew by 2.4 per cent and the amount of people with full-time positions decreased by 0.4 per cent.

With part-time work usually paying less and more precarious than full-time employment, the planning board considers this a concerning reality.

Niagara Workforce Planning Board executive director David Alexander said the root of the problem in Niagara is that the majority of jobs available come from just two types of industry – and both are mostly seasonal.

“Niagara relies more than most other regions on the impact of tourism and agriculture,” Alexander told Bullet News Niagara.

He said both drivers are cyclical components of the economy and feels creating a stronger market for tourism events outside of the peak season could create a noticeable, positive impact on Niagara's unemployment rate.

He said Niagara Falls has the Winter Festival of Lights and the annual Sleep Cheap program – which he sees as leading examples of things that help the area during a time of the year when less tourists are visiting.

“It's about how we continue to balance a very robust market for jobs in the summer with more job creation in the off-season,” said Alexander.

“There are some fantastic initiatives already – but we need to do more of that – with job creation in mind,” he added.

Youth unemployment has reached a level of 18.9 per cent in Niagara. Almost one in every five Niagara residents between the ages of 15 and 24 who want a job, cannot find one.

The provincial rate of youth unemployment is 15 per cent and across Canada it is 13.6 percent.

The rates affecting Niagara do not include Grimsby and West Lincoln.