Searching for that elusive thing: A permanent, full-time, well-paying job


By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Dec 12, 2014

When Krista Lawson decided to move to Squamish last year, she knew it’d be difficult to get a permanent, full-time, job in a small town.

But she never imagined it would be this difficult.

It’s been a year of looking, but she still hasn’t been able to find what seems like a rare commodity: A secure, stable, full-time, permanent job in Squamish.

“I feel really low and defeated but I keep it to myself and keep trying,” Lawson said.

Lawson works three part-time, casual jobs: In a local pet food store, as a dog walker, and as a home cleaner. Last month, she worked 70 hours and brought home $800.

With $500 for rent and $300 for groceries and car insurance, she had nothing left. To make ends meet, she has to sometimes borrow money from her parents, one of the many indignities of her job situation.

Originally from North Vancouver, Lawson worked as an animal shelter manager in the US, where she lived with her husband for over 20 years. But when her marriage ended, she sold her home and decided to move to Squamish where she lives now with her brother.

Lawson said she was under no illusion of finding work in her own profession when she decided to move to town.

Still, she thought, she would be able to find some kind of full-time work in retail or in some administrative position. But the town proved her wrong. After sending in ten resumes, she got one call from a local store looking for someone to work part-time on minimum wage.

“I’ve never applied for so many jobs and not get a response,” she said.

The gondola and the positive press it brought has lulled many to believe Squamish is either booming or on the cusp of a boom.

But this optimism, although necessary, hides an unedifying reality: There are few full-time, permanent, well-paying jobs in Squamish.

A quick search on Squamish job sites shows employers are hiring, but most of them are looking for either on-call, casual, or part-time workers.

Even the full-time jobs (except the ones the district is hiring) wouldn’t pay enough to raise a family.

 Here’s a sample gleaned from job sites: A customer service representative for a cash store (part-time, permanent), care aide at Hilltop House (on call, casual), security guard (full-time), and Starbucks manager (full-time).

According to the 2011 census, Squamish has an unemployment rate of 8.1 per cent, higher than the provincial average of 7.9 per cent.

Construction is the largest employment industry in Squamish, followed by retail, and accommodation and food services.

Walmart, Save on Foods, Squamish Terminals, Home Depot and Nesters are the top employers.

Census stats also show women make considerably less than men in Squamish. The median income for men in Squamish in 2011 was $40,462, while for women it was $27, 792.

More women, the census found, were working part-time in Squamish.

Lawson says she has thought of going back to school or starting her own small business, but all of those options aren’t easy without money.

She has also applied for jobs in Whistler and North Vancouver, but is concerned commuting for a job will involve extra cost in gas and wear and tear on her old car.

Now in her 50s, Lawson feels trapped in Squamish. But she isn’t entirely hopeless yet.

“I don’t have anywhere to go, so I will keep living in Squamish and keep looking for a full-time, permanent job,” she said.




  1. Dave Colwell says:

    This may seem harsh, but please do some thorough research before you move to what is, essentially, a “bedroom” community. Most of the owners of small businesses cannot afford to pay their employees much above minimum wage. And the big boxes?…while they do employ a lot, they do not pay large wages.
    Nice place to live but you will probably have to commute. An hour and fifteen to Vancouver…not too bad…Good highway. Better than living in Maple Ridge or Surrey etc. Good luck Krista.

  2. Richard Tripp says:

    Krista, if you’re still looking you might consider investigating Ft McMurray.

    A Fly In Fly Out camp job will give you an annual income greater than the “average Squamish male” and still leave you with months of days off to enjoy the benefits of living in Squamish. Current oil prices mean the opportunities are fewer but they are still there for those who chase them down. No experience is required for many and once a foot is in the door many are earning a solid six figure income for five or six months within a year or two of their first job.

    Squamish already has many residents doing this. The total commute time is far less than Vancouver or Whistler. Someone has to help derive the fuel to keep all the commuters rolling.

  3. Craig says:

    If you can do administrative work and have a computer, then look online for work and work for companies all over the world.
    There are over 2200 Admin Support jobs on Elance alone.