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AB has worst payroll employment growth in Canada

Since March 2019, two months before the UCP were elected, Alberta has lost over 27,000 payroll employees, the worst performance of any province.

Yesterday, Statistics Canada released updated data on employment and average weekly earnings for each of the provinces. The new data was as of March 2022.

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

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

ON6,695,060
QC3,953,991
BC2,428,789
AB1,996,173
MB617,716
SK487,949
NS432,489
NB339,552
NL215,036
PEI73,472

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 2022, there were 1,996,173 payroll employees working in Alberta. The month before, that number was 1,985,515. That’s a 10,658 increase, the third largest increase in the province.

Feb 2022Mar 2022Change% change
QC3,896,8973,953,99157,0941.47%
PEI72,98473,4724880.67%
ON6,657,8806,695,06037,1800.56%
AB1,985,5151,996,17310,6580.54%
NL214,061215,0369750.46%
NS430,606432,4891,8830.44%
BC2,420,5472,428,7898,2420.34%
NB338,419339,5521,1330.33%
SK487,408487,9495410.11%
MB618,146617,716-430-0.07%

However, when we look at the increase as a percentage of February’s job numbers, we see that Alberta actually had the fourth largest increase.

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

Mar 2021Mar 2022Change% change
QC3,665,1153,953,991288,8767.88%
ON6,228,1166,695,060466,9447.50%
BC2,264,0012,428,789164,7887.28%
AB1,869,2951,996,173126,8786.79%
PEI69,10773,4724,3656.32%
MB588,817617,71628,8994.91%
NL205,053215,0369,9834.87%
SK465,824487,94922,1254.75%
NB326,330339,55213,2224.05%
NS418,301432,48914,1883.39%

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

For example, check out what job numbers look like when we compare March 2022 to March 2020, the first month of the pandemic.

Mar 2020Mar 2021Change% change
QC3,554,9473,953,991399,04411.23%
PEI66,81273,4726,6609.97%
NB311,291339,55228,2619.08%
BC2,230,2112,428,789198,5788.90%
ON6,307,7506,695,060387,3106.14%
NS407,994432,48924,4956.00%
MB583,392617,71634,3245.88%
SK465,237487,94922,7124.88%
AB1,905,3951,996,17390,7784.76%
NL206,889215,0368,1473.94%

Alberta has seen the third largest increase in total jobs over the last two years, but relative to the number of jobs they had in March 2022, Alberta has seen the second worst growth in the country.

And look how bad things are if we go 3 years out, to March 2019, which was just 2 months before the UCP were elected.

Mar 2019Mar 2022Change% change
PEI68,51973,4724,9537.23%
NB322,329339,55217,2235.34%
QC3,772,4623,953,991181,5294.81%
BC2,329,9972,428,78998,7924.24%
NS420,749432,48911,7402.79%
ON6,594,4806,695,060100,5801.53%
SK482,708487,9495,2411.09%
MB613,740617,7163,9760.65%
NL216,948215,036-1,912-0.88%
AB2,023,2141,996,173-27,041-1.34%

Alberta has seen the worst job creation record of all 10 Canadian provinces, with over 27,000 fewer payroll employees than we had 3 years ago.

No other province saw such a large drop, in total numbers or in percentages.

In fact, Québec saw an increase in almost 200,000 payroll employees during the same period, and Ontario passed the 100,000 mark, with BC just shy of 100,000.

Here’s how the jobs have changed over the last 3 years, by industry.

Mar 2019Mar 2022Change% change
Accommodation and food services166,469147,805-18,664-11.21%
Educational services152,227142,131-10,096-6.63%
Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services96,94689,459-7,487-7.72%
Real estate and rental and leasing43,79537,652-6,143-14.03%
Other services (except public administration)76,09271,277-4,815-6.33%
Manufacturing124,850120,211-4,639-3.72%
Arts, entertainment and recreation39,74235,234-4,508-11.34%
Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction99,94396,129-3,814-3.82%
Information and cultural industries27,37125,380-1,991-7.27%
Public administration109,875107,976-1,899-1.73%
Forestry, logging and support3,9363,578-358-9.10%
Management of companies and enterprises19,88419,615-269-1.35%
Construction175,608175,495-113-0.06%
Trade343,518343,564460.01%
Transportation and warehousing103,948105,9031,9551.88%
Utilities13,85916,1312,27216.39%
Finance and insurance61,95266,7644,8127.77%
Professional, scientific and technical services117,147124,7077,5606.45%
Health care and social assistance214,821227,01812,1975.68%

Only 5 industries have seen a net increase in payroll employees over the last 3 years. The other 13 all saw losses, the largest of which was in the hospitality sector, which lost nearly 19,000 payroll employees.

And that’s despite having one of the lowest job vacancy rates in the country.

The job vacancy rate is the number of job vacancies expressed as a percentage of labour demand.

BC7.3
QC6.7
PEI5.6
ON5.6
SK5.4
NS5.2
MB5.0
NB4.8
AB4.7
NL4.5

And, as you can see from the above table, Alberta had the second lowest job vacancy rate in Canada.

You’d think that a province with such a low vacancy rate wouldn’t have so many jobs still missing.

In fact, according to Statistics Canada, Alberta still has 95,440 payroll employee vacancies. Seems weird that we still have over 27,000 fewer people working than we did 3 years ago.

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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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