AB lost more salary jobs than any province since 2019

Since December 2019, Alberta saw the largest loss in salaried employees of all the provinces. Their loss of over 20,000 salaried jobs comprised nearly 42% of all such losses in Canada.

At the end of February, Statistics Canada released employment data for December 2021. This data included information on the number of salaried employees and the number of hourly employees in each province.

I thought I’d go through the Alberta data and compare it to the same data over the last 10 years, since December 2011.

Keep in mind that this data hasn’t been adjusted for seasonality, so you’ll see dips after the Christmas season.

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First, here’s a high level look at total jobs over the past decade.

What we see is that even though there has been relative consistent growth in employment data over the last year and a half, December 2021 still came in lower than employment numbers before the pandemic.

In December 2021, there were 1.960 million people employed in Alberta as salaried or hourly employees. Two years earlier (months before the pandemic), that number was 2.019 million.

Not only that, but this is the third lowest December Alberta has seen in the last 10 years.

December 20111,869,562
December 20121,945,623
December 20132,020,758
December 20142,087,411
December 20152,022,293
December 20161,965,104
December 20171,995,491
December 20182,007,565
December 20192,019,051
December 20201,838,450
December 20211,960,853

Plus, Alberta was 1 of only 3 provinces that saw a decrease in the number of its salaried and hourly employees between December 2019 and December 2021. And its decrease was the worst performance of all the provinces.

Dec 2019Dec 2021Change% change

So, while it might be easy for us to dismiss the poor performance as being because of the pandemic, it’s important to note that 7 of the 10 provinces were able to see net increases of thousands of jobs—some of them tens of thousands.

Alberta’s loss of nearly 60,000 workers was almost twice as many as Ontario’s, even though Ontario has over 3 times the population.

If Alberta’s abhorrent performance was because of the pandemic, why didn’t the other provinces have similar losses, given that every province had to deal with an economic shutdown?

Now, let’s split the data by hourly employees and salaried employees.

Alberta has seen a significant increase in the number of hourly employees since the start of the pandemic, jumping up 265,404 people, from 842,150 in May 2020 to 1,107,554 in December 2021.

However, if with an increase of half a million workers, December 2021’s numbers are still—like those of the total numbers—below December 2019 levels.

In December 2019, there were 1,130,453 hourly employees. Two years later—and after a year and a half of economic recovery—that number is at 1,107,554. That’s nearly 23,000 employees short.

On the plus side, that number is one of the highest for a December over the last 10 years.

December 20111,024,850
December 20121,056,842
December 20131,099,953
December 20141,161,662
December 20151,102,962
December 20161,070,761
December 20171,090,389
December 20181,125,338
December 20191,130,453
December 20201,031,844
December 20211,107,554

Alberta was 1 of only 3 provinces that saw a decrease in the number of hourly employees between 2019 and 2021.

Dec 2019Dec 2021Change% change

And as you can see, they had the worst performance of all the provinces.

There was no indication in the dataset regarding how many of the hourly employees were part-time and how many were full-time.

It’s a similar story for salaried employees: despite a year and a half of growth, the number of salaried employees at the end of 2021 was still below what it was prior to the start of the pandemic.

At the end of 2021, there were 724,377 salaried employees in Alberta. Two years prior, that number was 744,502, a loss of 20,125.

And unlike we saw with hourly employees, this past December was one of the worst Decembers for Alberta’s salaried employees.

Dec 2011672,386
Dec 2012729,558
Dec 2013770,880
Dec 2014778,362
Dec 2015773,965
Dec 2016739,789
Dec 2017742,020
Dec 2018736,637
Dec 2019744,502
Dec 2020682,082
Dec 2021724,377

When compared to the rest of the provinces, Alberta lost the highest number of salaried jobs over the last two years and lost the second highest percentage of salaried jobs.

Dec 2019Dec 2021Change% change

In fact, Alberta’s loss accounted for 41.9% of all the salaried job losses in the country during the last two years.

So much for those “good-paying jobs” Jason Kenney, Alberta’s premier, keeps talking about.

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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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