Statistics Canada recently released data on payroll employment, and I was curious to see how Alberta fared with the rest of the country.
For the purposes of their data, Statistics Canada classifies someone as a payroll employee if they are paid “for services rendered or for absences, and for whom the employer must complete a Canada Revenue Agency T4 form”. It includes full-time, part-time, casual, and temporary employees, as well as working owners, directors, partners, and other officers of incorporated businesses. It doesn’t include owners or partners of unincorporated businesses and professional practices, the self-employed, unpaid family workers, persons working outside Canada, military personnel, or casual workers for whom a T4 form isn’t required.
The data is current as of July 2023. Here’s how it breaks down for each province.
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Alberta saw the fourth largest number of payroll employees this past July. I’m not surprised by that, given that it also has the fourth largest population in general.
But how have the provinces performed over time?
|Jun 2023||Jul 2023||Change||% change|
Well, compared to the previous month, Alberta did pretty well, actually, seeing the largest increase in the total number of payroll employees in the country.
In fact, Ontario and Manitoba were the only two other provinces to join Alberta in seeing an increase in payroll employees. Everyone else dropped.
As a percentage of June’s payroll employees, Alberta’s 0.26% increase was in second place behind Manitoba’s 0.47%.
Now, let’s take a look at how things changed over the last year.
|Jul 2022||Jul 2023||Change||% change|
Alberta still performs pretty well, but falls to third place. It was 1 of only 4 provinces that saw an increase in payroll employees that passed the 70,000 mark during this 12-month period, and pretty much neck and neck with Québec and British Columbia.
Ontario really shot ahead of everyone else, basically increasing their payroll employees by double the amount seen by each the next 3 provinces. In fact, Ontario saw almost as many new payroll employees as the next two provinces—Québec and Alberta—combined.
On a percentage basis, however, Alberta was back in the top spot, increasing their payroll employees by 3.76%. The next largest increase in payroll employees—3.73%—occurred in Prince Edward Island.
Let’s go back a bit further, to July 2018, the last July under the NDP government.
|Jul 2018||Jul 2023||% change|
Here we see that while the United Conservative Party has been in power, Alberta has seen an increase of over 100,000 payroll employees, the fourth largest increase in the country.
However, their increase was outshadowed by the three larger provinces. BC saw an increase that was more than double that of Alberta, Québec’s was more than triple, and Ontario’s was more than quadruple.
As a result, on a percentage basis, Alberta actually fell to third last place. Only Newfoundland and Labrador (3.7%) and Manitoba (5.28%) did worse.
So, while the number of people working has indeed increased in Alberta under the UCP, it increased in every other provinces as well, and it increased at faster rates in 7 of them.
This made me wonder what things looked like a decade ago.
|Jul 2013||Jul 2023||Change||% change|
Interesting. Even going back an entire decade, Alberta is still in fourth place in terms of total numbers of payroll employees.
However, what we see is that Alberta barely budged compared to the July 2018 numbers.
|10 years||5 years||Difference|
Alberta saw 13,147 more payroll employees over the last 10 years than they did over the last 5 years. Five other provinces saw differences larger than that, including two provinces with smaller provinces than Alberta’s.
And while we shouldn’t be surprised that the 3 provinces with larger populations than Alberta saw payroll employee numbers increase more than Alberta’s, the increases were huge.
Québec saw a difference that was nearly 18 times more than what Alberta saw. BC, which has a population that’s 17.5% larger than Alberta’s, had a 5-year difference that was nearly 23 times that of Alberta.
Ontario’s was over 48 times larger.
Let’s look at the numbers in one other way.
A decade ago, Alberta was responsible for about 13% of all payroll employees in the country. That kept increasing for a little over a year, until it maxed out at 13.29% in October of 2104.
After that, it kept falling for the next 6 years, bottoming out at 11.5% in the autumn of 2020.
Alberta has been on a recovery climb over the last 2.5 years or so, but still sits at only 11.8%, where it’s been since April.
And before you blame the NDP for that fall, keep in mind that it began under the Progressive Conservatives, continued under the NDP’s entire term, and finally ended only after a year and a half had passed during the UCP’s first term.