© Herald file photo
The province as a whole is doing much better than Prince Albert when it comes to linking people with employment.
In July, Prince Albertâs seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.9 per cent -- more than double Saskatchewanâs record-low 3.3 per cent.
The city of Prince Albert fared worse than its region -- Prince Albert and Northern Saskatchewan, which touted a July unemployment rate of 4.8 per cent.
âPart of our issue is we have a very young unemployment demographic in youth, which makes up a large portion of that figure,â Mayor Greg Dionne said, responding to the latest batch of statistics.
However, Statistics Canadaâs latest population count from 2011 lists 10,485 people aged 19 years and younger as living in the city -- a figure that represents about 29.5 per cent of its population.
Province-wide, 26.09 per cent of the population was aged 19 years and younger in 2011.
After expressing surprise that Prince Albertâs youth population is only slightly greater than the provincial average, Dionne noted that educational opportunities are greater elsewhere.
âIn Saskatoon and Regina they seem to have more skilled youth than we do,â he explained.
This is why the mayor said that he was pleased to hear last weekâs federal government announcement that $2.5 million will be invested to help train miners in northern Saskatchewan.
Provincially, youth unemployment was 6.6 per cent in July, which is less than half the national average and down two per cent from July of last year.
Government of Saskatchewan communications manager Shanna Schulhauser said that the government doesnât break down youth unemployment by region, and neither does Statistics Canada.
The Prince Albert Share-A-Meal Food Bank reported another record month in July, with co-manager Wes Clarke counting 760 food hampers handed out.
Last yearâs average was in the ballpark of 450 hampers per month.
âItâs quite a stratified city, so we tend to have all of the penitentiary and those kind of jobs, and then on the other end youâve got a lot of retail type stuff, so thereâs not a lot of in-between,â Clarke explained.
In Saskatoon and Regina they seem to have more skilled youth than we do. Greg Dionne
âWe do see a lot more people who are working part-time and are getting food hampers, as well -- that, certainly, has an impact.â
As of Friday afternoon, Saskjobs.ca listed 797 available jobs in Prince Albert, of which 361 were listed as being sales or service positions.
This industry was followed by 274 trades, transport and construction jobs. In third place were 47 business, finance and administrative jobs.
Year-to-date, Prince Albertâs unemployment rate averaged 5.3 per cent, which is down 1.5 per cent from the 6.8 per cent reported for the same time period last year.
Government action required
Prince Albertâs 7.9 per cent unemployment rate of July isnât too surprising, Prince Albert and District Chamber of Commerce CEO Merle Lacert said.
Itâs a bit strange to see the city boast a higher unemployment rate than its region as a whole, but the fact that the area boasts a higher unemployment rate than the rest of the province is old news.
âContinuously, for 20 years, we continue to just be the region that has the highest unemployment,â he concluded.
âGiven that the province has had so much success, maybe itâs time (the provincial government) look at Prince Albert, and maybe with future initiatives, future budgets, we can see an initiative come out targeted specifically for our area to address and hopefully reduce our unemployment rates,â Lacert added.
âWe see general initiatives come out of the provincial and even federal government, but we never seem to have anything simply targeted for our area, and maybe thatâs what we need to simply get us on par so we can enjoy or partake in all the benefits that the rest of the province is.â