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AB payroll employee growth since June 2019 worst in Canada

Since June 2019, the month before the UCP implemented the Job Creation Tax Cut, Alberta has increased its payroll employees by barely half a percent, the worst performance of any province.

Last week, Statistics Canada released updated data on employment and average weekly earnings for each of the provinces. The new seasonally adjusted data was as of June 2022.

I figured I’d take a look to see how the job situation looks in Alberta.

This data is different from the labour force data I reported on for June, in that this specifically reports on workers who are on payroll.

ON6,804,845
QC3,990,203
BC2,463,422
AB2,040,419
MB624,461
SK493,806
NS437,586
NB342,551
NL221,916
PEI74,647

Unsurprisingly, Alberta had the fourth largest number of payroll employees in Canada. After all, they do have the fourth largest population in general.

In June 2022, there were 2,040,419 payroll employees working in Alberta. The month before, that number was 2,025,500. That’s a 14,919 increase, the third largest increase in the country.

May 2022Jun 2022Change% change
ON6,761,8126,804,84543,0330.64%
QC3,961,3793,990,20328,8240.73%
AB2,025,5002,040,41914,9190.74%
BC2,450,1102,463,42213,3120.54%
MB614,730624,4619,7311.58%
SK491,918493,8061,8880.38%
NL220,105221,9161,8110.82%
NB341,445342,5511,1060.32%
PEI74,99574,647-348-0.46%
NS437,996437,586-410-0.09%

When we look at the increase as a percentage of May’s job numbers, we see that Alberta still had the third largest increase, surpassed by Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador were tied for the largest.

However, Alberta had the fourth largest increase when we compare to June 2021, a year earlier and a year after the province first introduced public health protections related to the pandemic.

Jun 2021Jun 2022Change% change
ON6,221,8926,804,845582,9539.37%
QC3,771,9463,990,203218,2575.79%
BC2,277,6002,463,422185,8228.16%
AB1,892,2842,040,419148,1357.83%
MB588,778624,46135,6836.06%
NS408,184437,58629,4027.20%
SK468,851493,80624,9555.32%
NB328,677342,55113,8744.22%
NL211,372221,91610,5444.99%
PEI68,03074,6476,6179.73%

As I said at the outset, this shouldn’t be that surprising, given that we have the fourth largest population in general. Alberta is also in fourth place in terms of percentage change over the last year.

However, things start to look less rosy the further we go back.

For example, check out what job numbers look like when we compare June 2022 to June 2020, three months into the pandemic.

Jun 2020Jun 2022Change% change
ON5,520,2336,804,8451,284,61223.27%
QC3,270,5333,990,203719,67022.00%
BC2,000,0902,463,422463,33223.17%
AB1,676,0462,040,419364,37321.74%
MB529,778624,46194,68317.87%
SK419,498493,80674,30817.71%
NS369,174437,58668,41218.53%
NB296,004342,55146,54715.73%
NL187,294221,91634,62218.49%
PEI60,68774,64713,96023.00%

Alberta has seen the fourth largest increase in total jobs over the last two years, but relative to the number of jobs they had in June 2020, Alberta drops down to fifth place.

And look how bad things are if we go 3 years out, to June 2019, which was the last month before the UCP cut the corporate profit tax, what they called a “Job Creation Tax Cut”.

Jun 2019Jun 2022Change% change
ON6,601,5386,804,845203,307.003.08%
QC3,800,1303,990,203190,073.005.00%
BC2,338,1182,463,422125,304.005.36%
NB324,479342,55118,072.005.57%
NS421,403437,58616,183.003.84%
AB2,028,5662,040,41911,853.000.58%
SK482,154493,80611,652.002.42%
MB614,669624,4619,792.001.59%
NL215,583221,9166,333.002.94%
PEI68,66774,6475,980.008.71%

Alberta’s growth in payroll employees since June 2019 was the 6th highest of all the provinces in Canada. However, relative to where we were in June 2019, Alberta has seen the worst job creation record of all the provinces, with an increase of only 0.58%.

Keep in mind that Alberta’s population increased by 3.6% during the same period. So the province’s population growth was roughly 7 times faster than it’s payroll employee growth.

No other province saw such a small increase, in percentages. The next lowest increase—Manitoba, at 1.59%—was still roughly 3 times larger than Alberta’s.

Ontario saw an increase in over 200,000 payroll employees during the same period. BC and Ontario both passed the 100,000 mark, more than 10 times what Alberta saw. And PEI grew their number of payroll employees by 8.71%.

Here’s how the jobs in Alberta have changed over the last 3 years, by industry.

Jun 2019Jun 2022Change% change
Accommodation & food services165,027155,423-9,604-5.82%
Educational services152,897145,061-7,836-5.13%
Other services (except public administration)76,85870,409-6,449-8.39%
Administrative and support, waste management & remediation services96,43691,593-4,843-5.02%
Real estate & rental and leasing42,53238,439-4,093-9.62%
Arts, entertainment & recreation38,86235,657-3,205-8.25%
Public administration109,436106,324-3,112-2.84%
Management of companies & enterprises21,30418,450-2,854-13.40%
Mining, quarrying, & oil and gas extraction101,29299,517-1,775-1.75%
Wholesale trade97,97196,361-1,610-1.64%
Information & cultural industries27,82626,327-1,499-5.39%
Manufacturing123,164122,157-1,007-0.82%
Retail trade246,235247,9241,6890.69%
Utilities13,70216,1762,47418.06%
Transportation & warehousing105,622109,6754,0533.84%
Finance and insurance63,25868,8135,5558.78%
Construction174,142180,7626,6203.80%
Professional, scientific & technical services119,342129,2329,8908.29%
Health care & social assistance219,069231,10312,0345.49%

Only 7 industries have seen a net increase in payroll employees over the last 3 years. The other 12 all saw losses, the largest of which was in the hospitality sector, which lost nearly 10,000 payroll employees.

And that’s despite having one of the lowest job vacancy rates in the country.

The job vacancy rate is the number of job vacancies expressed as a percentage of labour demand.

BC7.1
QC6.7
ON5.5
SK5.4
NS5.3
AB5.0
PEI4.8
MB4.7
NB4.4
NL4.0

And, as you can see from the above table, Alberta had the fifth lowest job vacancy rate in Canada this past June.

You’d think that a province with such a low vacancy rate wouldn’t have so many jobs still missing.

In fact, according to Statistics Canada, Alberta still has 104,185 payroll employee vacancies. Seems weird that we increased our payroll workforce by barely half a percent over the last 3 years.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on politics and labour.

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