The city's job picture continued to display apparently contradictory trends as both the unemployment rate and the number of people holding down jobs declined for the third straight month.
From a peak of 6.9 per cent in September, Prince George's unemployment has dropped to a five-and-a-half year low of 4.2 per cent in December, according to Statistics Canada Labour Force survey numbers released Friday.
But concurrently, the number of people actually working also remained on the downward slope, declining from a peak of 52,500 in September to 50,000 last month.
Two other figures appear to explain the discrepancy.
The number of people of working age not seeking employment stood at 18,600 last month, compared to 14,600 in September. And the number of people actively seeking work was 2,200, down significantly from 3,900 in September.
Jobs Minister Pat Bell indicated seasonal factors may be at play - such as temporary layoffs due to downtime at the sawmills - and expects the trend to continue for one more month before job growth revives.
Bell, the MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie, also said difficulty keeping track of construction workers who live in Prince George but are working elsewhere may be playing a role.
"In Prince George, we have some very large construction companies that tend to work in different parts of the province and different parts of the country, and those companies are always kind of unclear on where exactly those employees are working," Bell said.
"Some of them may have been laid off but Kitimat is an example - you have lots of people from Prince George working in Kitimat now."
Prince George's small population base exacerbates the statistical fluctuations, Bell added.
The picture was decidedly better than a year previous. For December 2011, the unemployment rate was 7.5 per cent, the number working was 49,100 and the number unemployed but seeking work was 4,000.
The numbers are based on a three-month rolling average.