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‘The future is very bright’: Optimism abounds that Windsor's jobless rate will soon improve

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Windsor's unemployment rate went up last month and remains the highest in the country, according to Statistics Canada.

But, officials with Workforce WindsorEssex believe the region is heading in the right direction, suggesting the latest figures don't reflect the whole picture.

According to unemployment numbers released Friday by Statistics Canada, the jobless rate in the Windsor area rose to 9.1 percent in June, up from 8.5 percent in May.

"On the surface level it isn't a great number to see, but we've been really making some great progress," said Tashlyn Teskey, senior manager of research and innovation.

"We talked previously about how the population increases that we're seeing are really driving some of those numbers. So the more people we're bringing into the community, there's more people that are going to be looking for work. But our participation rate is up and that's really the key, that more people are looking to actively participate in the labor market. So more folks are going to end up getting jobs."

Teskey said the number of new residents in Windsor-Essex is outpacing job growth, but at the same time, the region is still seeing a strong demand for jobs.

"We're always historically kind of unfortunately at that peak of the country, but the real piece that we'd like to look at is participation. And knowing that people are ready and willing to work in our community is really what we like to see."

Teskey said 700 new jobs were created in June along with the arrival of 1,200 working-age residents. "In June we saw over 6000 job postings on our website. So that demand is really there. It's just finding the right match for everybody. Once the summer months hit, that seasonal work kicks up. So, a lot of food service, restaurants, tourism construction is picking up again. Agriculture. Everyone's kind of kicking into high gear for the summer."

According to Workforce WindsorEssex, there were 6,317 total active job postings across the region in June from 2,185 companies, an increase of 8 per cent in total active job postings from the previous month.

Teskey said people are choosing to live in the Windsor-Essex region for a number of reasons.

"We do get a fair bit of newcomers that are coming internationally, whether they've arrived somewhere else in Canada or come here directly. We're a very popular place for newcomers because of the services and the welcoming community that we have here. But we also see a lot of folks that come from other areas in southwestern Ontario like Chatham-Kent, like Sarnia-Lambton and London that are coming for just a different lifestyle down here as well."

Teskey explained, "A lot of it has to do with the relative lower cost of living. A lot of people look to come here for retirement. It's warmer weather comparable to other places. So there's some advantages for folks to come down here."

She added, "A lot of upskilling and training is really helpful for folks that maybe are looking to change careers, that can really find that match for them in the best fit. But, just making sure that people know what those in-demand jobs are and that they know what they should be looking for to get the best chance of employment."

"I don't get too fussed over the month over month reports," stated Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. "Certainly we know that there are a lot of economic opportunities that are being constructed today, and there is more in the pipeline."

He continued, "We are working in city council, working at a yeoman's pace to try and get land ready to make sure that we take advantage of every one of these economic opportunity, which is going to change that number dramatically."

"While we have seen a slowdown in the last six weeks, we're used to the ebbs and flows of the manufacturing industry," said Sarah Battersby, the director of business development at The Job Shoppe in Tecumseh.

"This is a typical time for plant shutdowns and because the region is so heavily manufacturing focused. But when plant down shuts down, it can impact several other companies. So we're really used to our clients needing to be very agile, flexing their workforce needs based on business needs."

"We're expecting things to pick up based on what we've seen historically and just in conversations with our clients," Battersby told CTV News. "We know that there are some really exciting new growth opportunities on the horizon."

"The local manufacturing workforce is highly sophisticated and skilled, many possessing directly transferable skill sets for careers in occurring in the sector. So strategic focus on skills development and education is crucial here and it's already in progress I can say, which is exciting," Battersby said.

She added, "The future is very bright for Windsor and I think now with this new [EV] sector coming for the region, there's a fantastic workforce, but already there are these efforts being made to ensure that they have the education and the skills."

With files from AM800 News 

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