AB no longer has worst jobless rate outside Atl. Canada

For the first time in months, Alberta no longer has the 5th highest unemployment rate in the country.

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

The net increase to jobs between last month and July was 17,700.

Among workers 25 years of age and older, men workers saw the larger job increases between July and August. There were 10,500 more men over 25 at work last month compared to July. That number drops to 7,200, however, if you include those who are 15–24 years old.

On the other hand, only 2,500 more women over 25 were employed in August over the previous month—but that jumps to 10,400 more women 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:

Jul 2023Aug 2023Change% change

Alberta saw the largest increase in total jobs among all provinces that saw increases. They had the second largest percentage increase in new jobs, at 0.72%.

Québec saw the next largest increase in new jobs, with 14,800 more people working last month than in June. Prince Edward Island saw the largest percentage increase: 2.04%.

In Alberta, 10 job sectors saw job gains for April (with construction seeing the highest gains: 7,200).

The other 6 remaining sectors reported by Statistics Canada saw job losses in Alberta:

  • Educational services (-12,000)
  • Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (-6,100)
  • Agriculture (-4,100)
  • Public administration (-2,800)
  • Accommodation and food services (-1,600)
  • Utilities (-1,300)

Combined, these 8 industries lost 27,900 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”. “Educational services” saw the largest decrease over the last year.

Aug 2022Aug 2023Change% change
Health care & social assistance302,100332,80030,70010.16%
Professional, scientific & technical services222,400241,70019,3008.68%
Accommodation & food services125,400138,20012,80010.21%
Transportation & warehousing133,900144,60010,7007.99%
Public administration109,300115,0005,7005.22%
Other services (except public administration)99,000104,2005,2005.25%
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental & leasing126,900131,9005,0003.94%
Wholesale & retail trade371,400375,6004,2001.13%
Business, building & other support services72,40075,1002,7003.73%
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil & gas138,000139,6001,6001.16%
Information, culture & recreation89,10080,400-8,700-9.76%
Educational services158,400147,600-10,800-6.82%

The report from Statistics Canada also shows that Alberta’s private sector grew by 22,100 between July and August. There were 84,400 more private-sector jobs than this time last year. Public sector jobs were down by 16,000 over July but higher than August 2022 by 11,900. Self employed jobs were up by 11,400 over July but up by only 2,600 over August 2022.

Full-time jobs made up all of the job gains last month. Alberta lost 7,100 part-time jobs (seasonally adjusted) between July and August, and they gained 24,800 full-time jobs.

There were 16,500 more men full-time workers who gained jobs last month. By comparison, the number of women who worked full-time increased by 8,300 during the same period, roughly half.

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 2,070,100. That means that there are 183,400 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 83.2%, which is the first time since June 2019 that the percentage of full-time jobs has been higher than it was prior to the introduction of the corporate profit tax cut.

Speaking of full-time jobs, wages for full-time workers in Alberta increased by 3¢, from an average of $36.60 an hour in July.

Part-time wages, on the other hand, increased from $23.92 an hour in July to $24.10 in July. The average wage for both full-time and part-time jobs combined increased by 14¢, from $34.72 an hour to $34.86 an hour, which is still lower than what it was in April, when it sat at $35.01.

By industry, wages increased in 8 of the 16 reported sectors.

Jul 2023Aug 2023Change
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing$36.92$41.47$4.55
Other services (except public administration)$30.58$31.92$1.34
Educational services$39.58$40.53$0.95
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas$52.11$52.71$0.60
Public administration$43.40$43.99$0.59
Wholesale and retail trade$26.57$26.58$0.01
Professional, scientific and technical services$44.03$43.88-$0.15
Business, building and other support services$26.10$25.54-$0.56
Accommodation and food services$19.33$18.63-$0.70
Health care and social assistance$34.92$34.06-$0.86
Information, culture and recreation$27.01$25.56-$1.45
Transportation and warehousing$37.24$35.55-$1.69

When we compare wage growth of all the provinces over the previous month, Alberta had the worst performance in change of wages among all provinces that saw an increase. They weren’t technically in last place, however, as Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island actually saw wage declines.

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

Jul 2023Aug 2023Change

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

Alberta’s labour force also increased last month, but only by 6,000, so, if you have 6,000 more people available to work than in July, but 17,700 more people actually working, then it’ll result in a lower unemployment rate.

As far as how it compares with the rest of the country, Alberta’s unemployment rate was tied with Manitoba for the fourth lowest. Alberta’s unemployment rate was higher than just 3 other provinces: Saskatchewan (5.4%), British Columbia (5.2%), and Québec (4.3%).

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 5.9%. We’ll need more than one month to see whether this is an anomaly or the beginning of an upward trend.

As far as change in unemployment rate, half of the provinces—Nova Scotia, PEI, Alberta, BC, and Québec—saw decreases. Everyone else saw an increase.

That being said, Alberta’s unemployment rate in August 2022 was 5.5%, 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. Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Québec were the only ones who saw a decrease. Of those provinces with a higher unemployment rate, Alberta saw the third highest increase since August 2022.

Canada saw a decrease in employment last month, with jobs across the country increased by just shy of 40,000. Alberta saw the largest share of those jobs (17,700), followed by Québec (14,800) and BC (12,000). Ontario and Nova Scotia were the only provinces that lost jobs.

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

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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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