AB lost over 10K oil & gas jobs in March 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 March 2023 job numbers last week, and job numbers are up in Alberta.

The net increase to jobs between last month and February was 13,700.

Among workers 25 years of age and older, women workers saw the larger job increases between February and March. There were 4,900 more women over 25 back at work last month compared to February. That number jumps to 16,300 if you include those who are 15–24 years old.

On the other hand, 2,900 more men over 25 were employed in March over the previous month—but that changes to only 2,600 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:

Feb 2023Mar 2023Change% change

Alberta saw the second largest increase in total jobs, among all provinces that saw increases. They also had the second largest percentage increase in new jobs, at 0.56%. Only one province, PEI, saw an increase of more than 1%.

In Alberta, 9 job sectors saw job gains for March (with transportation and warehousing seeing the highest gains: 40,600).

The other 9 remaining sectors reported by Statistics Canada saw job losses in Alberta:

  • Construction (-18,800)
  • Health care and social assistance (-12,800)
  • Other services (except public administration) (-11,100)
  • Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas (-10,600)
  • Manufacturing (-6,100)
  • Agriculture (-3,300)
  • Wholesale and retail trade (-2,400)
  • Utilities (-2,200)
  • Educational services (-300)

Combined, these 9 industries lost 67,600 jobs.

Labour Force Survey in brief: Interactive app, Statistics Canada

Compared to a year ago, the industry with the highest job gains was “professional, scientific and technical services”. “Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas” saw the largest decrease over the last year.

March 2022March 2023Change% change
Professional, scientific and technical services203,700254,40050,70024.89%
Transportation and warehousing116,200150,20034,00029.26%
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing119,200132,30013,10010.99%
Health care and social assistance310,800319,7008,9002.86%
Other services (except public administration)88,80093,7004,9005.52%
Public administration107,500111,2003,7003.44%
Business, building and other support services75,10078,2003,1004.13%
Information, culture and recreation83,20079,800-3,400-4.09%
Educational services171,700165,800-5,900-3.44%
Accommodation and food services134,200124,100-10,100-7.53%
Wholesale and retail trade371,200360,800-10,400-2.80%
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas146,900132,600-14,300-9.73%

The report shows that Alberta’s private sector grew by 11,600 between February and march. There were 78,800 more private-sector jobs than this time last year. Public sector jobs were up by 200 over February but higher than March 2022 by 4,800. Self employed jobs were up by 1,900 over February but up by 11,000 over March 2022.

Full-time jobs made up most of the job gains last month. Alberta gained 10,500 full-time jobs (seasonally adjusted) between February and March, and they gained 3,300 part-time jobs.

There were 100 fewer men full-time workers who gained jobs last month. By comparison, the number of women who worked full-time increased by 10,600 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 1,998,800. That means that there are 112,100 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 unchanged from the 81.8% it was at in February. 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 unchanged last month, from an average of $36.68 an hour in February. This is the first time in 7 months that full-time wages haven’t increased in Alberta; although it’s still the highest the average wage for full-time workers has been since at least January 1997.

Part-time wages, on the other hand, increased, from $24.80 an hour in February to $24.92 in February, a record high. The average wage for both full-time and part-time jobs combined decreased to $34.47 an hour last month from $34.63 in Febuary.

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

Feb 2023Mar 2023Change
Other services (except public administration)$27.46$29.12$1.66
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas$51.28$52.73$1.45
Business, building and other support services$27.07$28.06$0.99
Accommodation and food services$18.41$19.09$0.68
Information, culture and recreation$27.04$27.57$0.53
Public administration$44.25$44.37$0.12
Health care and social assistance$33.20$33.29$0.09
Wholesale and retail trade$26.54$26.55$0.01
Transportation and warehousing$33.94$33.64-$0.30
Professional, scientific and technical services$43.15$42.69-$0.46
Educational services$38.82$37.22-$1.60
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing$36.04$34.27-$1.77

When we compare wage growth of all the provinces over the previous month, Alberta saw the third worst performance in changes of wages. It had the third largest decrease in wages. That being said, Alberta still had the highest average hourly wage of all the provinces.

Feb 2023Mar 2023Change

Despite the addition of nearly 14,000 new full-time jobs to its economy, Alberta saw its unemployment rate decrease only slightly to 5.7% last month, down from only 5.8% in February.

That’s because Alberta’s labour force also increased by over 11,300, so, if you have 11,300 more people available to work than in February, then it’s going to slow down how much the unemployment rate decreases by. After all, those new workers in the labour force ended up taking 82.5% of all the new jobs.

As far as how it compares with the rest of the country, Alberta’s unemployment rate was tied for fourth highest. Alberta’s unemployment rate was lower than just 3 other provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador (10.3%), Prince Edward Island (6.6), and New Brunswick (5.8%). We were tied with Nova Scotia. Alberta’s neighbours—BC and Saskatchewan—are at 4.5% and 4.7%, 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 0.1 points was the fourth largest decrease in unemployment in the country, behind just PEI (0.7), British Columbia (1.6), and New Brunswick (1.7).

Canada saw an increase in employment last month, with jobs across the country jumping up by 34,700, the bulk of which occurred in Ontario and Alberta, which increased by 21,400 and 13,700, respectively. Saskatchewan saw the largest decrease, losing 4,300 jobs.

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

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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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