Statistics Canada recently released data on payroll employment for each of the provinces. The seasonally adjusted data was as of the February 2023.
This data is different from the labour force data I reported on for February, 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 February.
Unsurprisingly, Alberta had the fourth largest number of payroll employees in Canada. After all, they do have the fourth largest population in general.
In February 2023, there were 2,105,463 payroll employees working in Alberta. The month before, that number was 2,093,250. That’s a 12,213 increase, the third largest increase in the country.
|Jan 2023||Feb 2023||Change||% change|
When we look at the increase as a percentage of the third quarter job numbers, we see that Alberta actually had the largest increase.
Alberta had the third largest increase when we compare to the February 2022, a year earlier and nearly two years after the province first introduced public health protections related to the pandemic.
|Feb 2022||Feb 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 February 2021, two years prior and about a year into the pandemic.
|Feb 2021||Feb 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 February 2020, 7 months since the UCP government introduced what they dubbed the “Job Creation Tax Cut” and the last month before the government introduced public health protections related to the pandemic.
|Feb 2020||Feb 2023||Change||% change|
Alberta’s growth in payroll employees since February 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 nearly twice as large as Alberta’s, despite having a population that is only 14% larger.
On a percentage basis, Alberta actually saw the fourth worst growth of all provinces, coming in at 4.37%.
Ontario saw an increase in nearly 300,000 payroll employees during the same period. Québec and BC were the only other provinces to pass the 100,000 mark.
Finally, let’s compare last year’s numbers to February 2019, the last February during the NDP administration.
|Feb 2019||Feb 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. BC’s increase was 2.7 times larger the increase that Alberta saw, despite having only 14% more people living there.
By percentage, Alberta was in third-to-last place, at just 3.67%.
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 10.5%
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 almost 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 February 2019.
While it might seem impressive on the surface that Alberta saw an increase of 256,426 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 jsut before the pandemic, Alberta saw an increase of just 88,169 payroll employees. That means that of the 256,426 additional payroll employees we’ve seen since February 2021, 168,257 are likely exclusively recovery positions. That works out to about 65.6%.
Not only that, but between February 2019 and February 2020, Alberta had lost 13,584 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 February 2019.