British Columbia and Okanagan Job Market Trends: Summer 2019

We are in the middle of another beautiful summer here in the Okanagan.  Lots of tourists around and local businesses are thriving.  In fact did you know that earlier this year, Kelowna finished third in BMO’s Regional Labour Market Report Card?  Finishing behind only Guelph, Ontario and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Kelowna was recognized as one of the nation’s leaders for its job market performance. Pretty impressive considering that over the past year, Kelowna’s population grew by 2% while the unemployment rate dropped from 3.3% to 2.9%.  The BMO report also states:

  • Early this year, BC had an unemployment rate around 4.4% which was about 2% lower than the national average.
  • BC also had a median wage of $23.70/hr which was 40 cents above the national average.

So how is the job market in the Okanagan looking as we approach autumn?  Well according to data from as of July 2019:

  • The regional unemployment rate in the Okanagan is 4.4%
  • The regional unemployment rate in Kelowna is slightly lower at 4.3%

Historically, seasonality of some industries does have a greater impact in the Okanagan than other areas of the province and like any location layoffs or downtime such as what Tolko Kelowna is experiencing can have a dramatic impact on the region.  When it comes to province-wide trends we are seeing some interesting changes.

The most recent BC Labour Market Outlook report states that:

“British Columbia’s workforce is evolving. The baby boomer generation is retiring, millennials are a driving force in the labour market and, in the next 10 years, most job openings will require post-secondary credentials.”

The report mentions:

  • Forecasts suggest that 166,000 job openings over the next 10 years will be in occupations that have a high chance of being affected by automation.
  • Currently, the average age of a worker within the B.C. labour force is 42 years of age. The majority of future job opening in the Okanagan and throughout British Columbia are anticipated to happen as a result of having to replace retired workers.

Source: BC Labour Market Outlook 2018

  • In 2019, it is estimated that there will be 46,000 young people (people aged 17-29 years old) starting work filling about 53% of the estimated job openings in BC in 2019.
  • In 2019 and over the next decade the top five industries will account for nearly half of total projected job openings in the province. These industries include:
    • Health Care and Social Assistance
    • Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
    • Retail and Trades
    • Accommodation and Food Services
    • Finance, Insurance and Real Estate
  • The Thompson-Okanagan region will see the third highest number of job openings in the province over the next ten years. However, the employment growth rate is expected to be the third lowest ay 0.7%.
  • Top skills of the future include:
    • Active listening
    • Communication: Effective speaking
    • Reading comprehension
    • Critical thinking
  • The top industries forecast to have the largest number of job openings in the Okanagan over the next decade include:
    • Retail/Trade
    • Hospitals
    • Nursing/Residential Care facilities
    • Food Services/Restaurants
    • Ambulatory health care services

Source: BC Labour Market Outlook 2018

For additional insight into Okanagan Labour Market trends see page 41 of the British Columbia Labour Market Outlook: 2018 Edition.

The Labour Market for the Okanagan is strong and will experience continued growth in upcoming years.   This should be great for job seekers in the Okanagan, however like the rest of the province, the workforce in BC’s Interior is evolving.  For employers in the Okanagan that means that competition for skilled workers will increase and the time it takes to fill positions may take longer than it does today.  Be prepared and ready for staging challenges of the future.  Stay informed about the Labour Market and be proactive with your HR and recruiting strategy.


Aspire Recruitment Solutions is the Okanagan’s leading staffing, human resource solution and employment agency provider to clients in Kelowna, Vernon, Kamloops, Northern BC and Alberta.  We can help you feel confident in building your team in order to deliver a successful experience with your customers. For assistance with your staffing needs, contact us today to set up a consultation.