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AB had worst payroll employee growth despite lowest profit tax

PEI grew their workforce 16.59 times faster than Alberta, despite having a corporate income tax rate that was double of what Alberta has.

Statistics Canada recently released third quarter data on payroll employment for each of the provinces. The seasonally adjusted data was as of September 2022.

This data is different from the labour force data I reported on for September, in that this specifically reports on workers who are on payroll.

I figured I’d take a look to see how the job situation looks in Alberta.

ON6,523,610
QC3,783,090
BC2,353,815
AB1,974,815
MB596,945
SK475,150
NS412,695
NB317,825
NL199,895
PEI68,380

Unsurprisingly, Alberta had the fourth largest number of payroll employees in Canada. After all, they do have the fourth largest population in general.

In Q3 2022, there were 1,974,815 payroll employees working in Alberta. The previous quarter, that number was 1,943,975. That’s a 30,840 increase, the third largest increase in the country.

Q2 2022Q3 2022Change% change
ON6,416,9556,523,610106,6551.66%
BC2,321,1902,353,81532,6251.41%
AB1,943,9751,974,81530,8401.59%
QC3,763,8403,783,09019,2500.51%
SK470,125475,1505,0251.07%
NS410,275412,6952,4200.59%
NB315,810317,8252,0150.64%
MB595,705596,9451,2400.21%
NL199,060199,8958350.42%
PEI67,71568,3806650.98%

When we look at the increase as a percentage of the second quarter’s job numbers, we see that Alberta actually had the second largest increase, surpassed by only Ontario.

Alberta also had the fourth largest increase when we compare to Q3 2021, a year earlier and a year after the province first introduced public health protections related to the pandemic.

Q3 2021Q3 2022Change% change
ON6,074,4206,523,610449,1907.39%
QC3,613,7753,783,090169,3154.69%
BC2,203,0852,353,815150,7306.84%
AB1,862,0501,974,815112,7656.06%
MB570,635596,94526,3104.61%
NS393,780412,69518,9154.80%
SK458,590475,15016,5603.61%
NB306,960317,82510,8653.54%
NL192,210199,8957,6854.00%
PEI63,58068,3804,8007.55%

As I said at the outset, this shouldn’t be that surprising, given that we have the fourth largest population in general. Alberta is also in fourth place in terms of percentage change over the last year.

However, things start to look less rosy the further we go back.

Statistics Canada didn’t have stats for the third quarter of 2020, but here are what the numbers look like when compared to the second quarter of 2019, right before the UCP government introduced what they dubbed the “Job Creation Tax Cut”.

Q2 2019Q3 2022Change% change
ON6,283,8356,523,610239,7753.82%
QC3,603,3153,783,090179,7754.99%
BC2,231,5152,353,815122,3005.48%
NS397,585412,69515,1103.80%
NB305,345317,82512,4804.09%
SK464,810475,15010,3402.22%
AB1,965,2201,974,8159,5950.49%
MB589,360596,9457,5851.29%
PEI63,25568,3805,1258.10%
NL198,280199,8951,6150.81%

Alberta’s growth in payroll employees since June 2019 was the fourth worst of all the provinces in Canada, in total numbers.

On a percentage basis, however, Alberta actually saw the worst growth of all provinces, coming in at less than half a percent.

Keep in mind that Alberta’s population increased by 4.57% during the same period. So the picture is even worse. Alberta went from having 45.24% of its population on payroll in Q2 2019 to 43.47% in Q3 2022, a drop of almost 2 full percentage points.

Ontario saw an increase in nearly 240,000 payroll employees during the same period. Québec and BC were the only other provinces to passed the 100,000 mark. And PEI grew their number of payroll employees by over 8%.

On that now. 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 growth their payroll employees by 16.5 times more than Alberta could.

Maybe how low a tax on corporate profits is actually has no bearing on job growth.

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By Kim Siever

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

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