More jobs filled despite fewer available Whistler labour stats track fall activity By Chris Woodall Whistler employers had fewer jobs to offer work watchers last fall, but the Whistler Employment Centre placed more people in the jobs it had available than in previous years, statistics show. Month-to-month and year-to-year, the statistics are something of a roller coaster of numbers when looking at them from the autumns of 1995 to 1997. The number of people who walked into the job centre — located behind the Whistler Chamber of Commerce cabin in Whistler Creekside — was 7,416 from September to the end of December, 1995; fell off drastically to 6,374 visits for the same months in 1996; then rose to a higher level at 7,862 appearances in autumn 1997. The same ebb and flow shows up for numbers of people who got work out of their trip. While 332 jobs were filled in autumn ’95, that fell off to 265 in ’96, before rising to 338 jobs in fall '’97. There is a decline over the three years in the number of jobs posted by employers with the employment centre during those months, with 325 in ’95, 301 in ’96, and 291 in ’97. Employers pay the centre $10 a pop for job postings. Employers listed multi-job openings. The totals see-sawed year to year, ending up far lower in ’97 (656 total fall openings) than in ’95 (843). Employers, of course, may have filled those jobs through other means: word of mouth, a sign in the window, or buying a "help wanted" ad. The centre doesn't break down the job postings by employment category. One indication that a decline may be in the construction industry is in the amount of casual labour work available. Casual labour is defined as work that doesn't last more than five days. Employers call the centre to tell of — usually — grunt work they need done: snow or dirt shovelling, trades helpers, or construction materials delivery. Job seekers call in to register themselves for the day, find out what's on tap and get themselves in line for calls that come in. Casual labour wages are often in the $9-$10 range, with many opportunities being of the "cash" nature. From September through December in 1995, 119 orders came in offering casual labour. That number rose to 155 in ’96, but fell off by more than 30 per cent in ’97, with November and December requests for workers dropping by about 50 per cent from the previous year. The federal government, through Statistics Canada, keeps track of employment movement and has some interesting results for low-income families and individuals. Two-thirds of single mothers who move out of a low-income situation do it on their own, says a labour and income dynamics survey. Just a third of single mothers are better off financially due to a new partner in their lives, the survey says. A little bit of full-time work goes a long way. "The equivalent of about four months of full-time work is enough to help a family out of a low-income situation," the Stats Can survey says. B.C.'s minimum wage is $7 an hour, set to rise to $7.15 an hour in April.