AB sees 91K new jobs under UCP, mostly retail

Between May 2019 and May 2022, Alberta saw an increase of 91,200 more workers holding down a job. The retail sector accounted for 59,000 of those.

With the May 2022 jobs data recently released by Statistics Canada, we now have 3 full years of employment data under the UCP government.

I was curious how the various business sectors fared over the last 3 years, so I decided to look at the data again to see where we are now.

In May 2019, total employment across all industries was 2,301,600. Three years later, in May 2022, that number was 2,392,800. That means that there are 91,200 more people working now than there were 3 years ago.

Now, let’s look at the job numbers for each sector:

May 2019May 2022Change
Wholesale & retail trade339,800393,70053,900
Prof., scientific & technical services174,800207,80033,000
Health care & social assistance283,900310,40026,500
Fin., ins., real estate, rental, leasing97,000120,10023,100
Educational services152,400171,30018,900
For., fish., mining, quarrying, oil, gas142,300150,4008,100
Information, culture & recreation77,50079,5002,000
Accommodation & food services139,700141,2001,500
Bus., building, other support serv.83,80076,800-7,000
Transportation & warehousing138,800129,400-9,400
Public administration115,900104,700-11,200
Other serv. (except public admin)114,10094,700-19,400

What we see here is that the largest increase in jobs was in the wholesale and retail trade sector, which saw nearly 54,000 more people working than there were in May 2019.

The wholesale and retail trade sector accounted for 59.1% of all the new workers over the last 3 years, all of which were in retail.

In fact, the wholesale sector itself saw a drop in workers, going from 87,700 workers in 2019 to 82,500 in 2022. The retail sector, on the other hand, increased from 252,100 to 311,100.

In other words, the increase seen in the retail sector was larger than the increase seen in the other 15 sectors combined.

As well, in 2019, the wholesale and retail combined accounted for 14.76% of the jobs in all sectors combined. But because of the disproportionate jump in jobs over the last 3 years, last month, they accounted for 16.45% of all jobs.

The professional, scientific and technical services sector came in second place for the most new jobs. Their 33,000 new jobs bumped them from 7.59% of all jobs in 2019 to 8.68% this year.

Third place went to the health care and social assistance sector, which went from 12.33% of all jobs in 2019 to 12.97% of all jobs in 2022, with a total increase of 26,500.

At the other end of the spectrum, the “other” sector saw the largest decrease in the number of workers, losing over 19,000 workers. In second place was the manufacturing sector, which lost nearly 15,000 workers. The agriculture sector lost 9,000 workers, landing them in third from last place.

Most of the increase in workers was seen in full-time jobs.

Alberta went from 1,882,200 full-time jobs in May 2019 to 1,972,500 in May 2022, an increase of 90,300 full-time workers.

Here’s how it breaks down by sector.

May 2019May 2022Change
Wholesale & retail trade250,200298,10047,900
Prof., scientific & technical services144,300175,80031,500
Health care & social assistance214,000241,00027,000
Fin., ins., real estate, rental, leasing88,400104,90016,500
Educational services114,100128,50014,400
For., fish., mining, quarrying, oil, gas136,200148,30012,100
Information, culture & recreation48,00056,1008,100
Accommodation & food services91,10092,000900
Transportation & warehousing124,600118,200-6,400
Bus., building, other support serv.62,00052,600-9,400
Public administration109,20096,400-12,800
Other serv. (except public admin.)91,10071,900-19,200

Wholesale and retail top the list again, with 47,900 new full-time workers. Second and third place were “professional, scientific and technical services” and “health care and social assistance”, respectively.

The bottom three were also similar, except agriculture, which jumped to 5th last, was replaced by public administration for the third largest number of lost full-time workers.

Part-time workers saw a much smaller increase overall when compared to full-time workers.

At the start of the UCP’s term, part-time workers numbered 419,400 in Alberta. With only 1 year left in their first term, the UCP has seen part-time workers increase by only 900, to 420,300.

Here’s how the numbers break down for each sector. According to Statistics Canada, the utilities sector did not have data for part-time workers.

As you can see, the largest increase was in the “finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing” sector, which saw an increase of 6,600 part-time jobs.

May 2019May 2022Change
Fin., ins., real estate, rental, leasing8,60015,2006,600
Wholesale & retail trade89,60095,6006,000
Educational services38,40042,8004,400
Bus., building, other support serv.21,70024,2002,500
Public administration6,6008,3001,700
Prof., scientific & technical services30,50032,0001,500
Accommodation & food services48,60049,200600
Other serv. (except public admin.)23,00022,800-200
Health care and social assistance70,00069,400-600
Transportation & warehousing14,20011,200-3,000
For., fish., mining, quarrying, oil, gas6,1002,200-3,900
Information, culture & recreation29,40023,300-6,100

They were followed by wholesale and retail trade at 6,000 and educational services at 4,400.

Construction was at the bottom of the list, having lost nearly 8,000 part-time jobs, followed by “information, culture & recreation” and “forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas”, which had lost 6,100 and 3,900 part-time workers, respectively.

Finally, let’s look at job growth in relation to population growth.

In the first quarter of 2019, Alberta’s population sat at 4,330,833. The years later, it had reached 4,480,486. That’s an increase of 3.46%.

If we apply that increase to May 2019’s job numbers, Alberta should’ve gone from 2,301,600 total workers employed to 2,381,132. The reported numbers for May 2022, however, were 2,392,800.

That means that during the 3 years that the UCP have been in power, the number of people working across all economic sectors has increased by 11,668 more than if it had stuck with population growth.

Here’s how that breaks down for each sector:

Wholesale & retail trade393,700351,54242,158
Prof., scientific & technical services207,800180,84026,960
Fin., ins., real estate, rental, leasing120,100100,35219,748
Health care & social assistance310,400293,71016,690
Educational services171,300157,66613,634
For., fish., mining, quarrying, oil, gas150,400147,2173,183
Information, culture and recreation79,50080,178-678
Accommodation & food services141,200144,527-3,327
Bus., building, other support serv.76,80086,696-9,896
Transportation and warehousing129,400143,596-14,196
Public administration104,700119,905-15,205
Other serv. (except public admin.)94,700118,043-23,343

Not only did wholesale and retail trade end up with the largest increase in jobs, as I discussed earlier, but this sector saw over 40,000 more jobs then they should’ve had, if they had kept up with population growth.

Professional, scientific and technical services came in a distant second, at 26,960 more jobs than projected. Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing was even further behind in third, at 19,748 more than if they had kept pace with population growth.

The “other services (except public administration)” sector came in last place, having 23,343 fewer jobs than if they had kept up with population growth.

Manufacturing was in second last place, with over 18,000 under population growth, followed by public administration, which was under population growth by more than 15,000.

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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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