Housing starts down, but population and job postings up in Central Okanagan

By Doyle Potenteau Global News

Housing starts in the Central Okanagan are down from one year ago, even though the region’s population grew slightly and local businesses are clambering more than ever to find employees.

That’s according to data published this week by the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission (COEDC), which published its economic indicators for the first quarter of 2022.

The COEDC says the report includes cumulative statistics for nine key indicators from January through March.

For instance, the region’s population grew to 229,400 in 2021, up from 223,622 in 2020 – a rise of 2.6 per cent.

However, the labour force fell 2.7 per cent, to 104,700 from 109,433 one year ago. The unemployment rate also rose, to 6.9 per cent from 5.4 per cent.

Regarding housing, the number of starts fell 40.4 per cent. The report stated there were 351 total starts in the first quarter of 2022 (128 single detached homes; 233 multi-family homes), down from 589 in the first quarter of 2021 (221 single detached; 368 multi-family).

Building permit values also fell, 42.6 per cent, to $361 million from $629 million. However, this year’s first-quarter total was an increase of 101.6 per cent from 2020’s total of $179 million.

Home prices, on the other hand, soared 3.75 per cent, with the report listing the median new home price in Kelowna at $1.155 million – almost double that of Calgary ($570,000) but still well below Vancouver ($2 million).

Okanagan employers struggle to recruit and retain employees amid labour shortage

Rent is up 6.9 per cent, with a two-bedroom apartment now coming in at $1,463 a month.

And, lastly, job postings are up an astounding 44.4 per cent from one year ago, and 65.5 per cent from the first quarter of 2020. Leading the way in job postings were positions in sales and service, at 29.4 per cent.

Next, at 14.3 per cent were positions in trades, transport and equipment operators, with business, finance and administration in third at 13.6 per cent. That was followed by management occupations (9.4 per cent) and health jobs (8.0 per cent).

Earlier this year, Statistics Canada released census data, and Kelowna was tabbed as being Canada’s fastest-growing metropolitan area. Statistics Canada said Kelowna grew 14 per cent from 2016.

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