10K+ public sector workers lost their jobs in AB since Apr 2021

Alberta still has the highest unemployment rate outside of Atlantic Canada.

The federal government released their April 2022 job numbers last week, and job numbers are up in Alberta.

The net increase to jobs between last month and March was 16,000.

Compared to February 2020, the month before the Alberta government implemented pandemic restrictions for the first time, total jobs are up 64,800.

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Among workers 25 years of age and older, women workers saw the larger job increases, by far, between March and April. There were 11,000 more women over 25 back at work last month compared to February. That number increases to 13,600 if you include those who are 15–24 years old.

On the other hand, 1,600 fewer men over 25 were employed in February over the previous month—but the loss increases to 2,400 more men if you include the younger group.

Statistics Canada provided no data on non-binary workers.

In Alberta, 9 job sectors saw job gains for November (with “wholesale and retail trade” seeing the highest gains: 11,200).

The 7 remaining sectors reported by Statistics Canada saw job losses in Alberta:

  • Business, building and other support services (-3,900)
  • Other services (-3,600)
  • Information, culture and recreation (-1,600)
  • Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas (-1,200)
  • Manufacturing (-700)
  • Construction (-600)
  • Utilities (-400)

Combined, these 9 industries lost 12,000 jobs.

Labour Force Survey in brief: Interactive app, Statistics Canada

Compared to a year ago, the industry with the highest job losses was “other services”. “Wholesale and retail trade” saw the largest increase over the last year.

Wholesale and retail trade55,00016.60%
Accommodation and food services33,80033.30%
Information, culture and recreation18,00028.90%
Professional, scientific and technical services12,1006.60%
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas10,8007.90%
Health care and social assistance8,8002.90%
Public administration7,1007.20%
Business, building and other support services2,2003.00%
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing-600-0.50%
Transportation and warehousing-1,500-1.20%
Educational services-1,800-1.10%
Other services (except public administration)-13,100-12.90%

The report shows that Alberta’s private sector grew by 15,000 between March and April, but there were 128,000 more private-sector jobs than this time last year. Public sector jobs were up by 200 over March but lower than April 2021 by 10,500. Self employed jobs were up by 900 over March and were 1,200 fewer than they were in April 2021.

Full-time jobs made up most of the job gains last month. Alberta gained 9,800 part-time jobs (seasonally adjusted) between March and April, and they gained 6,100 part-time jobs.

All the full-time workers who found news jobs last month were women. There were 12,600 women full-time workers who gained jobs last month. By comparison, the number of men who worked full-time fell by 2,700 during the same period.

This is the second time in 2022 that Alberta has seen a gain in full-time jobs.

Between July 2019—when Jason Kenney introduced his so-called Job Creation Tax Cut—and February 2020, Alberta saw 4 months with drops in full-time jobs, for a total of 52,600 full-time job losses (if you account for gains made in other months).

In February 2020, there were 1,850,000 people working full-time in Alberta. Last month, that number was 1,880,200. That means there are 30,200 more people working full-time now than there were just before the pandemic.

However, in June 2019, the month before the Job Creation Tax Cut came into effect, there were 1,886,700 people working full-time. that means that we’re still missing 6,500 full-time jobs, despite there being more people working full-time now than there were just before the pandemic hit.

Not only that, but full-time jobs make up a smaller percentage of total jobs now than they did before the Job Creation Tax Cut. In June 2019, full-time jobs made up 82.5% of all jobs in the province. Last month, they were at 80.4%. The month before, they were at 80.5%.

Speaking of full-time jobs, wages for full-time workers were up 37¢ last month, from $35.49 an hour in March. This is the highest average full-time hourly wages have been since April 2020.

Part-time wages, on the other hand, had decreased, from $22.36 an hour in March to $22.24 in April, it’s the lowest level since August 2021. The average wage for both full-time and part-time jobs increased to $33.25 an hour last month from $32.94 in March.

By industry, wages increased in 11 of the 16 reported sectors. However, the following sectors saw wage decreases:

Mar 2022Apr 2022Change
Business, building & other support serv.$24.75$23.96-$0.79
Wholesale & retail trade$23.98$23.50-$0.48
Information, culture & recreation$30.65$30.59-$0.06
Forestry, fish., mining, quarrying, oil & gas$43.76$43.74-$0.02

When we compare wage growth of all the provinces over the last year, Alberta has the third best performance.

March 2022April 2022Change

The national average hourly wage increased by 14¢ since March 2021. Alberta was 1 of 3 provinces who saw wage growth over 30¢. All other provinces were under that, and 4 saw wage reductions.

Alberta’s unemployment rate was 5.9%, down from 6.5% in February. This is the lowest unemployment has been in Alberta during the entire time the UCP have been in power and the lowest it’s been since December 2018.

The participation rate decreased slightly to 69.2%, compared to 69.3% in February. Alberta had 300 more people participating in the labour force last month than they did in March.

As far as how it compares with the rest of the country, Alberta’s unemployment rate is fifth highest. It was surpassed by all the Atlantic provinces (6.0% and 12.9%). In fact, it has the highest unemployment rate outside of Atlantic Canada. Ontario’s is only 5.3%, and Alberta’s neighbours—BC and Saskatchewan—are at 5.4% and 5.5%, respectively. Québec had the lowest unemployment rate, at 3.9%, two points lower than Alberta’s.

Not only that, but if we compare the unemployment numbers for each province over the last 3 years, Alberta has the 5th highest increase in its unemployment rate.

Apr 2019Apr 2022Change

Canada saw an increase in employment last month, with jobs across the country rising by 15,3, the bulk of which occurred in Alberta (16,000) and Ontario (14,300). New Brunswick was third with 6,700 new jobs.

The national unemployment rate decreased to 5.2%, down only slightly from March’s 5.3% and the lowest it’s been in nearly 40 years.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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