AB lost 9,000 private sector employees in Feb 2023

Despite Alberta gaining nearly 11,000 new full-time jobs last month, Alberta had the highest unemployment rate outside Atlantic Canada.

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

The net increase to jobs between last month and January was 1,600.

Among workers 25 years of age and older, women workers saw the larger job increases between January and February. There were 3,100 more women over 25 back at work last month compared to January. That number drops to just 500 if you include those who are 15–24 years old.

On the other hand, 7,500 fewer men over 25 were employed in February over the previous month—but that changes to only 1,100 more 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:

Jan 2023Feb 2023Change% change

Alberta saw the smalles increase in total jobs, among all provinces that saw increases, despite having the fourth largest population in the country. Technically, they didn’t have the worst performance, since Nova Scotia and Quebéc actually saw decreases.

Of those provinces that had job increases, Alberta had the smallest percentage of new jobs, at only 0.7%.

In Alberta, 8 job sectors saw job gains for January (with transportation and warehousing seeing the highest gains: 8,100).

7 of the 8 remaining sectors reported by Statistics Canada saw job losses in Alberta:

  • Wholesale and retail trade (-14,100)
  • Educational services (-7,600)
  • Construction (-5,800)
  • Other services (except public administration) (-2,000)
  • Accomodation and food services (-1,400)
  • Agriculture (-1,400)
  • Professional, scientific and technical services (-400)

Combined, these 6 industries lost 32,700 jobs.

Labour Force Survey in brief: Interactive app, Statistics Canada

The economic sector of “finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing” saw no change in total people employed.

Compared to a year ago, the industry with the highest job gains was “professional, scientific and technical services”. “Educational services” saw the largest decrease over the last year.

Feb 2022Feb 2023Change% change
Professional, scientific and technical services206,800250,80044,00021.28%
Transportation and warehousing124,800140,90016,10012.90%
Public administration105,000117,60012,60012.00%
Health care and social assistance311,800319,1007,3002.34%
Other services (except public administration)92,90098,1005,2005.60%
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing123,500125,4001,9001.54%
Information, culture and recreation85,00085,2002000.24%
Wholesale and retail trade354,800353,900-900-0.25%
Business, building and other support services74,70073,100-1,600-2.14%
Accommodation and food services127,400122,700-4,700-3.69%
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas146,600135,800-10,800-7.37%
Educational services175,000161,400-13,600-7.77%

The report shows that Alberta’s private sector shrunk by 9,000 between January and February. There were 70,500 more private-sector jobs than this time last year. Public sector jobs were up by 1,900 over January but lower than February 2022 by 3,600. Self employed jobs were up by 8,700 over January but up by 2,900 over February 2022.

Full-time jobs made up most of the job gains last month. Alberta gained 10,900 full-time jobs (seasonally adjusted) between January and Febuary, but they lost 9,300 part-time jobs.

There were 5,500 men full-time workers who gained jobs last month. By comparison, the number of women who worked full-time increased by 5,400 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 1,988,300. That means that there are 101,600 more full-time jobs than there were before the UCP cut the tax on corporate profits.

That being said, full-time jobs still make up a smaller 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 81.8%, which is up from the 81.4% it was at in January, yet down from the 82.1% it was at in December. Never mind what it was back before the UCP cut the tax on corporations with more than half a million dollars in profits.

While we technically have more full-time jobs than we did 3 years ago, those jobs haven’t kept up with population growth, which means more people are working part-time jobs, relative to the number of people employed in Alberta.

Speaking of full-time jobs, wages for full-time workers were up 56¢ last month, from an average of $36.12 an hour in January. This marks 7 months of wage increases in Alberta, and it’s the highest the average wage for full-time workers has been since at least January 1997.

Part-time wages increased from $24.34 an hour in January to $24.80 in February, also a record high. The average wage for both full-time and part-time jobs increased to $34.63 an hour last month from $34.04 in January.

By industry, wages increased in 9 of the 16 reported sectors.

Jan 2023Feb 2023Change
Educational services$37.03$38.82$1.79
Transportation & warehousing$32.23$33.94$1.71
Wholesale & retail trade$25.51$26.54$1.03
Fin., ins., real estate, rental, leasing$35.29$36.04$0.75
Prof., scientific & tech. services$42.63$43.15$0.52
Health care & social assistance$32.76$33.20$0.44
Bus., bldg & other support serv.$26.67$27.07$0.40
Public administration$44.60$44.25-$0.35
Information, culture & recreation$27.43$27.04-$0.39
For., fish., mining, quarrying, O&G$51.93$51.28-$0.65
Accommodation & food services$19.08$18.41-$0.67
Other services (except pub. admin.)$28.23$27.46-$0.77

When we compare wage growth of all the provinces over the previous month, Alberta saw the largest increase in wages. Alberta also had the highest average hourly wage of all the provinces.

Jan 2023Feb 2023Change

Despite the addition of nearly 11,000 new full-time jobs to its economy, Alberta saw its unemployment rate decrease only slightly to 5.8% last month, down from 6.0% in January.

That’s because Alberta’s labour force also decreased by over 3,400. Plus, the participation rate decreased slightly from 70.3% to 70.0%, which means less of Alberta’s population is available for work than the month before.

So, if you have 3,400 fewer people available to work than in January and 1,600 more people working, then it’s going to bring down the unemployment rate.

As far as how it compares with the rest of the country, Alberta’s unemployment rate is fourth highest. Alberta’s unemployment rate was lower than just 3 other provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador (9.9%), Prince Edward Island (7.3), and New Brunswick (6.3%). Alberta’s neighbours—BC and Saskatchewan—are at 5.1% and 4.3%, respectively. Québec had the lowest unemployment rate, at 4.1%, nearly two full percentage points lower than Alberta’s.

As well, Alberta’s decrease of 0.2 points was the fourth largest decrease in unemployment in the country, behind just PEI (0.4), new Brunswick (1.2), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1.9).

Canada saw an increase in employment last month, with jobs across the country jumping up by 21,800, the bulk of which occurred in Ontario, which increased by 15,600. Alberta’s gain of 1,600 jobs was the smallest increase of all the provinces. BC was second with 6,700 new jobs. Québec saw the largest decrease, losing 15,500 jobs.

The national unemployment rate sat at 5.0%, unchanged from January.

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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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