AB lost 63K full-time jobs last month

This was the first time since last November that Alberta lost full-time jobs and the largest loss in full-time jobs since April 2020, one month into the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal government released their September 2023 job numbers last week, and job numbers are down in Alberta.

The net decrease to jobs between last month and August was 38,000, completely reversing the gains the province saw in July and August.

Among workers 25 years of age and older, women workers saw the larger job decreases between August and September. There were 18,300 fewer women over 25 at work last month compared to August. That number drops to 26,000, however, if you include those who are 15–24 years old.

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On the other hand, 3,000 more men over 25 were employed in September over the previous month—but that drops to 11,800 fewer men if you include the younger group.

Statistics Canada provided no data on non-binary workers.

Here’s how Alberta’s new jobs compare to the other provinces:

Aug 2023Sep 2023Change% change

Alberta saw the largest decrease in total jobs among all provinces that saw increases, which amounted to more than 1.5% of its total workforce. The month before, Alberta had seen the largest increase.

This time, however, Québec saw the largest increase in new jobs, with 38,700 more people working last month than in August. Prince Edward Island saw the largest percentage increase: 3%.

In Alberta, 6 job sectors saw job gains for September (with educational services seeing the highest gains: 14,100).

The other 10 remaining sectors reported by Statistics Canada saw job losses in Alberta:

Wholesale & retail trade-14,900
Professional, scientific & technical services-7,100
Public administration-6,400
Other services (except public administration)-6,300
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental & leasing-4,600
Health care & social assistance-2,500
Accomodation & food services-600

Combined, these 8 industries lost over 64,000 jobs.

Labour Force Survey in brief: Interactive app, Statistics Canada

Compared to a year ago, the industry with the highest job gains was “health care and social assistance”. “Utilities” saw the largest decrease over the last year.

Sep 2022Sep 2023Change% change
Health care & social assistance306,700330,30023,6007.69%
Transportation & warehousing133,900150,10016,20012.10%
Accommodation & food services126,900137,60010,7008.43%
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil & gas132,300141,6009,3007.03%
Business, building & other support services70,90077,7006,8009.59%
Professional, scientific & technical services228,500234,6006,1002.67%
Information, culture & recreation79,20082,2003,0003.79%
Public administration106,400108,6002,2002.07%
Other services (except public administration)98,30097,900-400-0.41%
Wholesale & retail trade362,900360,700-2,200-0.61%
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental & leasing129,900127,300-2,600-2.00%
Educational services164,400161,700-2,700-1.64%

The report from Statistics Canada also shows that Alberta’s private sector shrank by 46,600 between August and September; however, there were 30,400 more private-sector jobs than this time last year. Public sector jobs were up by 3,900 over August but higher than September 2022 by 16,100. Self employed jobs were up by 5,000 over August but up by only 20,700 over September 2022.

Full-time jobs made up all of the job losses last month. Alberta gained 24,800 part-time jobs (seasonally adjusted) between July and August, and they lost 62,600 full-time jobs.

This was the first time since last November that Alberta lost full-time jobs and the largest loss in full-time jobs since April 2020, one month into the COVID-19 pandemic.

All of the other provinces combined saw an increase of 78,500 full-time jobs. Alberta lost almost as many full-time jobs as the rest of the country gained.

There were 34,000 men full-time workers who lost jobs last month. By comparison, the number of women who worked full-time decreased by 28,500 during the same period.

In June 2019, the month before the Job Creation Tax Cut came into effect, there were 1,886,700 people working full-time. Last month, there were 2,007,500. That means that there are 120,800 more full-time jobs than there were before the UCP cut the tax on corporate profits.

For the first time in over 4 years, full-time jobs now make up a larger 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 at 81.9%, meaning that we have a smaller percentage of Alberta workers being employed in full-time positions than we did before the Job Creation Tax Cut.

Speaking of full-time jobs, wages for full-time workers in Alberta increased by 97¢, from an average of $36.63 an hour in August.

Part-time wages, on the other hand, increased from $24.10 an hour in August to $25.87 in September. The average wage for both full-time and part-time jobs combined increased by 75¢, from $34.86 an hour to $35.61 an hour.

Alberta has the highest average full-time hourly wage but the second highest average part-time wage, behind British Columbia.

By industry, wages increased in 11 of the 16 reported sectors.

Aug 2023Sep 2023Change
Professional, scientific and technical services$43.88$46.91$3.03
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing$41.47$44.16$2.69
Information, culture and recreation$25.56$27.48$1.92
Wholesale and retail trade$26.58$27.19$0.61
Public administration$43.99$44.60$0.61
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas$52.71$53.27$0.56
Business, building and other support services$25.54$25.93$0.39
Accommodation and food services$18.63$18.96$0.33
Health care and social assistance$34.06$34.14$0.08
Transportation and warehousing$35.55$35.41-$0.14
Educational services$40.53$39.59-$0.94
Other services (except public administration)$31.92$30.45-$1.47

When we compare wage growth of all the provinces over the previous month, Alberta had the third best change in wages among all provinces.

Alberta also had the highest average hourly wage of all the provinces; although BC was only 2¢ an hour behind Alberta. In August, BC was 16¢ behind Alberta.

Aug 2023Sep 2023Change

Alberta saw its unemployment rate reamin steady at 5.7% last month, down from 6.1% in July but still the same as it was in May, June, and August.

Alberta’s labour force also decreased last month by 39,900, so, if you have 40,000 fewer people available to work than in August, but 38,000 fewer people actually working, then it’s not surprising that it had little effect on the unemployment rate.

As far as how it compares with the rest of the country, Alberta’s unemployment rate was the fifth lowest. Alberta’s unemployment rate was higher than just 4 other provinces: British Columbia (5.4%), Manitoba (5.0%), Saskatchewan (4.9%), and Québec (4.4%).

For months, Alberta had the distinction of having the highest unemployment outside of Atlantic Canada. That now falls to Ontario, with a jobless rate of 6.0%. We’ll need more than two month to see whether this is an anomaly or the beginning of an upward trend.

As far as change in unemployment rate, four of the provinces—Nova Scotia, PEI, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan—saw decreases. Everyone else saw an increase, other than Alberta, of course, which saw no change.

That being said, Alberta’s unemployment rate in September 2022 was 5.4%, which means that with all the ups and downs in its unemployment rate over the last year, the percentage of the labour force in Alberta that remains without a job has actually increased.

To be fair, most provinces had a higher unemployment rate last month than they had the year before. PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador were the only ones who saw a decrease. Of those provinces with a higher unemployment rate, Alberta saw the lowest increase since September 2022.

Canada saw an increase in employment last month, with jobs across the country rising by just shy of 64,000. Québec saw the largest share of those jobs (38,700), followed by BC (25,700) and Ontario (19,900). As I pointed out earlier, Alberta, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador were the only province to lose jobs last month.

The national unemployment rate sat at 5.5%, unchanged from July and August.

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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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