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High costs of living factoring into Barrie employment numbers


A leader in Barrie's business community says he's not surprised by recent employment data.

Paul Markle, the executive director of the Barrie Chamber of Commerce, says the sectors that have faced the most significant challenges, such as health care, transportation and manufacturing, continue struggling to find employees despite Barrie's unemployment rate remaining below the provincial average.

On Friday, new data shows that Ontario's unemployment rate held steady at five per cent while Barrie's fell three-tenths of a per cent to four per cent.

"Simcoe County has done a good job in developing its sectors, and people that can work here want to work here, and I think businesses have gotten creative in how they are trying to attract new employees, so that's playing a part of that," says Markle.

Markle says that the high costs of living in Simcoe County are leading many people to leave the area altogether, which could be a contributing factor explaining the recent data.

"I think housing affordability and attainability has a lot to do with it," says Markle. "We're certainly seeing a number of people moving from Barrie…out of Ontario into other provinces, so I think that's going to continue to be a problem as well."

The Job Demand Report released on Friday shows 3,528 jobs posted in Barrie in February. Orillia was second with 874, and Collingwood in third with 760 available jobs.

Most of the jobs posted last month were in the sales and service occupations; however, Markle points out that many of those jobs do not set applicants up for success in dealing with the high living costs in the area.

"On the part-time side retail and food service, those types of jobs are the most plentiful obviously, but they don't pay very well, so certainly not jobs that can sustain a lifestyle," says Markle.

Another challenge with local employment numbers is that many of the open jobs are in the skilled trades, a sector that is short of qualified applicants.

Markle expects the job numbers to remain relatively steady next month but says once spring arrives, many sectors that are reliant on warmer weather will open up.

"The need for construction increases with the weather getting better," says Markle. "At the same time, our tourism industry starts to ramp back up; although we are four season but you'll start to see more of those seasonal-type jobs start to enter the market, and I'm that will have an effect on the numbers as well." Top Stories

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