Windsor's jobless rate up for October — but leaders say it's not the whole picture

The City of Windsor's unemployment rate increased by half a percentage point between September and October — but some argue that it's not as bad as it seems. 

New numbers from Statistics Canada set the unemployment rate in Windsor at 6.7 per cent for October — up from 6.2 per cent in September. This is higher than Ontario's jobless rate which held steady at 5.3 per cent, and the national rate which sits at 5.5 per cent. 

Statistics Canada also released seasonally-adjusted average unemployment rates for 34 major cities. Windsor ranks fifth-highest for unemployment, behind Saint John (7.7 per cent), St. John's (7.3 per cent), Calgary (7.2 per cent) and Edmonton (7.1 per cent).

"I think there's more to it than meets the eye," said Workforce WindsorEssex's senior director Justin Falconer, adding that the the region is experiencing unprecedented population growth, which means that more people are looking for jobs. 

"We have a relatively strong economy, but it's actually being outpaced by population growth. And so, it's something to watch. We saw a small decrease in the number of job postings last month, so it's something we're going to monitor, but overall we have more people employed than we did last year, generally speaking," he said.

"So I'm optimistic as to how this year will wrap up."

Katerina Georgieva/CBC

Transitional months

Falconer also explained that September and October tend to be transitional months for Windsor's economy, with summer jobs winding down and more students coming to the city who are also looking for work.

He added that even though the unemployment rate is up, the rates for September and October of this year are lower than for the same months last year. 

He pointed out that there is also industry growth in the finance, insurance and real estate sectors.

There's also been an increase in the number of people working in manufacturing for two months in a row, for the first time in four years. 

Depression, anxiety

For Hardeep Singh, finding work has been a struggle, and he's been unemployed for two years.

With unemployment, he said, come challenges like "depression, maybe anxiety sometimes, not being able to reach out and talk to people."

But he's been getting help at the Unemployed Help Centre (UHC) in Windsor. He recently completed their youth program and is hopeful about an upcoming job interview at a restaurant coming up.

Workforce WindsorEssex

The UHC's CEO June Muir explained that they see people from all walks of life.

"It's a very diverse population. So we have students, we have international students, we have seniors, we have newcomers — a lot of seniors still walk through our doors and are looking for employment because they cannot live on their pensions," she said, adding that her organization currently serves 50 clients more right now than this time last year.

However, she echoed Falconer's point that the latest statistics are a reflection of the fact that seasonal work has ended. 

Katerina Georgieva/CBC

Andrea Ducharme is the Help Centre's job developer. She says the UHC has seen an increase in the number of international students seeking assistance.

"They are looking for some part-time work. I know that employers are willing to accommodate part-time work, especially for weekend employment," she said.

"And they're willing to do it, they do travel out of town often in order to find some employment."

Growing demand in tourism and hospitality

She also explained that she sees a lot of foreign-educated individuals who have come to the city but are struggling to find their first work opportunity in Windsor.

As for labour market needs, Ducharme said that last year, retail needs were up, but this year has seen a slower start.

She said trade jobs are down when it comes to moulding, but there has been a greater demand in the tooling industry. Plus, there's growing demand in tourism and hospitality. 

Muir says the centre is available to help anyone who needs it.

"We make sure that we assist them with their employment needs, and also basic needs, other needs."

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