Statistics Canada recently released data on payroll employment for each of the provinces. The seasonally adjusted data was as of the March 2023.
This data is different from the labour force data I reported on for March, in that this specifically reports on workers who are on payroll.
In particular, it includes full-time employees, part-time employees, as well as permanent, casual, temporary, and seasonal employees. It also includes working owners, directors, partners, and other officers of incorporated businesses, as well as employees who work at home or on the road but report to the location.
However, what it doesn’t include are owners or partners of unincorporated businesses and professional practices, the self-employed, subcontractors, external consultants, unpaid family workers, persons working outside Canada, and military personnel, as well as employees on unpaid leave, such as those on extended sick leave who are receiving insurance benefits.
I figured I’d take a look to see how the job situation looks in each province for March.
Unsurprisingly, Alberta had the fourth largest number of payroll employees in Canada. After all, they do have the fourth largest population in general.
In March 2023, there were 2,102,740 payroll employees working in Alberta. The month before, that number was 2,096,924. That’s a 5,816 increase, the second largest increase in the country.
|Feb 2023||Mar 2023||Change||% change|
When we look at the increase as a percentage of the March job numbers, we see that Alberta also had the second largest increase, just behind Prince Edward Island.
Alberta had the second largest increase when we compare to the March 2022, a year earlier and two years after the province first introduced public health protections related to the pandemic.
|Mar 2022||Mar 2023||Change||% change|
Alberta jumps to first place, however, in terms of percentage change over that year.
Here is what things look like going back to the March 2021, two years prior and a year into the pandemic.
|Mar 2021||Mar 2023||Change||% change|
Alberta had the fourth largest increase in payroll employment but the highest when we look at percentage-based increase.
However, things start to look less rosy the further we go back.
For example, check out what the numbers look like when compared to the March 2020, 8 months since the UCP government introduced what they dubbed the “Job Creation Tax Cut” and the month the government introduced public health protections related to the pandemic.
|Mar 2020||Mar 2023||Change||% change|
Alberta’s growth in payroll employees since March 2020 was the fourth best of all the provinces in Canada, in total numbers. However, that growth was drastically lower than the 3 larger provinces. For example, British Columbia, which was only one spot above Alberta, saw an increase in payroll employment that was over 100,000 larger than Alberta’s, despite having a population that is only 14% larger.
On a percentage basis, Alberta actually saw the fifth worst growth of all provinces, coming in at 9.74%.
Ontario saw an increase in over 600,000 payroll employees during the same period. Québec and BC were the only other provinces to pass the 200,000 mark.
Finally, let’s compare last year’s numbers to March 2019, the last March during the NDP administration.
|Mar 2019||Mar 2023||Change||% change|
Once again, Alberta saw the fourth largest increase in absolute numbers, but, once again, it trails behind the three other large provinces. Ontario passed the 300,000 mark, and Québec and BC were both over 200,000.
By percentage, Alberta was in third-to-last place, at just 3.53%.
Keep in mind that Alberta’s population increased by 7.79% during the same period—or rather between December 2018 and December 2022—which means the growth in payroll jobs we did see wasn’t even enough to give jobs to the people who were moving to the province, let alone those who were already here and were still unemployed.
PEI saw the largest increase in percentage growth, at 10.76%
On that note, PEI’s corporate tax rate is 16%. Despite having a corporate income tax rate that is twice as high as Alberta’s, PEI was able to grow their payroll employees by over 3 times more than Alberta could.
Maybe how low a tax on corporate profits is actually has no bearing on job growth.
Finally, here’s a look at the monthly growth in payroll employees for Alberta since March 2019.
While it might seem impressive on the surface that Alberta saw an increase of 221,883 payroll employees over the last 2 years, it looks like most of that was recovery from the pandemic.
In fact, as I pointed out earlier, over the last 3 years, from the start of the pandemic, Alberta saw an increase of just 186,684 payroll employees. That means that of the 221,883 additional payroll employees we’ve seen since March 2021, 186,684 are likely exclusively recovery positions. That works out to about 84.14%.
Not only that, but between March 2019 and February 2020, the last month before the pandemic, Alberta lost 13,689 payroll employees, so we were already on a decline before the pandemic hit.
And it wasn’t even until last April—over 3 years—that we finally passed the number of payroll employees we had in March 2019.