16,000 fewer women working in Alberta last month

Alberta has the highest unemployment rate outside of Atlantic Canada

The federal government released their October 2021 job numbers last week, and job numbers are down in Alberta for the first time in months.

The net decrease to jobs between last month and September was 9,000.

Compared to February 2020, the month before the Alberta government implemented pandemic restrictions for the first time, total jobs are down 5,300.

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Among workers 25 years of age and older, men workers saw the larger job increases, by far, between September and October. There were 4,100 more women over 25 back at work last month compared to September. That number drops to 3,900 if you include those who are 15–24 years old. On the other hand, 15,600 fewer women over 25 were employed in October over the previous month—but it improves to 12,900 fewer women if you include the younger group.

In Alberta, only 5 job sectors saw job gains for September (with wholesale and retail trade seeing the highest gains: 10,100).

Of the remaining sectors reported by Statistics Canada, 9 saw job losses in Alberta:

  • Accomodation and food services (-10,000)
  • Other services (except public administration) (-5,800)
  • Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas (-4,200)
  • Agriculture (-2,300)
  • Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (-1,700)
  • Information, culture and recreation (-1,200)
  • Construction (-1,100)
  • Utilities (-900)
  • Manufacturing (-800

Combined, these 9 industries lost 28,000 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.

Change% change
Wholesale and retail trade36,40011.4
Educational services20,50013.5
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental, leasing16,30015.6
Professional, scientific and technical services14,9008.3
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas11,5008.9
Transportation and warehousing6,2004.8
Accommodation and food services5,4004.7
Public administration5,1004.9
Health care and social assistance1,3000.4
Business, building and other support services-900-1.2
Information, culture and recreation-4,900-6.5
Other services (except public administration)-11,300-11.0

The report shows that Alberta’s private sector grew by 1,300 between September and October, but there were 96,100 more private-sector jobs than this time last year. Public sector jobs were up by 5,400 over September but lower than October 2020 by only 4,300. Self employed jobs were down by 15,700 over September and 24,100 lower than they were in October 2020.

Full-time jobs made up all of the job gains. Alberta gained 9,400 full-time jobs (seasonally adjusted) between September and October, yet they lost 18,500 part-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 1,846,800 people working full-time in Alberta. Last month, that number was 1,852,700. That means there are 5,900 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 1,889,400 people working full-time. that means that we’re still missing 36,700 full-time jobs, despite there now being more people working full-time 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 81.8%.

Alberta’s unemployment rate was 7.6%, up 0.5 points since September. This is the eighth time during the pandemic that it’s been below 10%, but it’s still higher than the 7.2% it was at prior to the pandemic.

The participation rate decreased to 68.9% compared to September. A lower participation rate means fewer people are looking for work, which could lead to a lower increase in unemployment, even if the number of jobs increases.

As far as how it compares with the rest of the country, Alberta’s unemployment rate is fifth highest, being surpassed by all the Atlantic provinces. In fact, it has the highest unemployment rate outside of Atlantic Canada. Manitoba’s is only 5.3%.

Canada saw an increase in employment last month, with national jobs going up by 31,200.

The national unemployment rate decreased to 6.7%, down from September’s 6.9% but still higher than the pre-pandemic 5.6% the country saw in February 2020.

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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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