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AB university grads least likely to have a job

Compared to the other 9 provinces in Canada, Alberta saw the smallest increase in the number of university-educated workers employed in the province, since the UCP gained power.

Earlier this month, Statistics Canada release their Labour Force Survey results for December 2022, which includes all sorts of data about the labour market throughout the country.

When I was perusing through it, I came across a dataset that covered employment data based on the education level of workers, and I was curious how Alberta’s workers with university degrees have fared in this labour market.

At the end of 2022, there were 703,500 workers with university degrees in Alberta. That’s an increase of 87,000 from the 683,500 who were working the end of 2021.

Here’s a look at total employment numbers in Alberta over the last decade for workers with university degrees.

And here’s a look at the change in workers for each year.

And as a percentage.

So, while the number of university-educated workers has been rising every year over the last decade, the overall trend has been for the increase to get smaller and smaller.

During the first year of the pandemic, Alberta saw the smallest increase in university educated workers, only 0.33%. Since then, the rate of increase have been the third and fourth lowest over the last 10 years.

And this isn’t just a UCP issue, either.

In the NDP’s first year, the rate of increase amon university-educated workers dropped from 8.54% to 4.93%. Then it fell to 3.48% the following year and 2.24% in their final year. the second lowest rate of increase since 2013.

The UCP’s first year saw a 4.5% increase, the largest increase since 2015, but they haven’t come close to that since then.

Let’s take a look at how Alberta compares to the other provinces.

Dec 2021Dec 2022Change% change
ON2,715,8002,834,200118,4004.36%
QC1,321,2001,353,40032,2002.44%
BC950,200978,60028,4002.99%
AB683,500703,50020,0002.93%
NS138,200148,80010,6007.67%
MB187,300197,30010,0005.34%
SK141,500150,1008,6006.08%
NL50,50058,3007,80015.45%
NB91,60097,9006,3006.88%
PEI21,30025,7004,40020.66%

Alberta saw the 4th largest increase in employed university-educated workers in the country, which shouldn’t be that surprising, given that they have the 4th largest population overall.

However, if we look at the increase to the 2021 numbers, Alberta saw the second lowest increase, at just 2.93%, just ahead of Québec, which was in last place with 2.44%, and barely behind BC, which was at 2.99%.

PEI was in first place with 20.66% more university-educated workers than they had the year before.

Now, let’s look at how the provinces compare to each other during the entire time the UCP have been in power.

Dec 2018Dec 2022Change% change
ON2,341,7002,834,200492,50021.03%
BC757,200978,600221,40029.24%
QC1,140,7001,353,400212,70018.65%
AB634,600703,50068,90010.86%
MB165,000197,30032,30019.58%
NS127,000148,80021,80017.17%
SK128,400150,10021,70016.90%
NB80,20097,90017,70022.07%
NL46,70058,30011,60024.84%
PEI18,40025,7007,30039.67%

Alberta saw the 4th largest increase in employed university-educated workers in the country. Again, this shouldn’t be that surprising, given that they have the 4th largest population overall.

That being said, BC has the 3rd largest population, and they were in second place for the largest increase in the country.

Unfortunately, if we look at the increase to the 2018 numbers, Alberta saw the lowest increase, at just 10.86%, a far cry from what all the other provinces saw. The next lowest increase was in Nova Scotia, which employed 17.17% more university-educated workers last year than they did in 2021.

To be fair, we should probably see how university-educated workers fared during the 4 years under the NDP, too.

Dec 2014Dec 2018Change% change
ON1,977,7002,341,700364,00018.41%
QC990,1001,140,700150,60015.21%
BC617,700757,200139,50022.58%
AB547,600634,60087,00015.89%
MB135,400165,00029,60021.86%
NS113,200127,00013,80012.19%
NB71,10080,2009,10012.80%
SK119,600128,4008,8007.36%
PEI15,40018,4003,00019.48%
NL50,50046,700-3,800-7.52%

During the 4 years that the NDP were in power, Alberta still saw the fourth largest increase in the country.

However, the increase under the NDP was larger than the one that the UCP saw, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage. Not only that, but take a look at this.

2014–20182018-2022Change
ON364,000492,500128,500
BC139,500221,40081,900
QC150,600212,70062,100
NL-3,80011,60015,400
SK8,80021,70012,900
NB9,10017,7008,600
NS13,80021,8008,000
PEI3,0007,3004,300
MB29,60032,3002,700
AB87,00068,900-18,100

And this one, too.

2014–20182018–2022Change
NL-7.52%24.84%32.36%
PEI19.48%39.67%20.19%
SK7.36%16.90%9.54%
NB12.80%22.07%9.27%
BC22.58%29.24%6.66%
NS12.19%17.17%4.97%
QC15.21%18.65%3.44%
ON18.41%21.03%2.63%
MB21.86%19.58%-2.29%
AB15.89%10.86%-5.03%

Alberta was the only province to do a worse job in absolute numbers over the last four years in providing jobs for university-educated workers, compared to the previous year.

Plus, they were one of two provinces to do a worse job on a percentage basis, and even then, they saw the worst performance.

One more thing. Check out the percentage of university-educated workers employed in part-time jobs in each province at the end of 2022.

BC15.30%
MB14.19%
AB13.56%
SK12.52%
NS12.50%
PEI12.45%
QC11.74%
ON11.72%
NL10.98%
NB9.81%

At the end of 2022, there were 95,400 people with university degrees working in part-time jobs in Alberta. This accounts for 13.56% of all university-educated workers in the province.

Only BC and Manitoba had a higher percentage of university-workers employed in part-time jobs.

New Brunswick had the lowest percentage, with only 9.8% of their university-educated workers being in part-time jobs. In fact, they were the only province to come in below 10%.

Here’s how the province has performed in employing their university-educated workers in part-time jobs over the last decade.

The percentage of university-educated workers in part-time jobs increased during the first two years under the NDP, continuing an upward trend that occurred under the last few years of the PC administration.

The NDP saw a slight dip in 2017, but it rose again, albeit barely, in their last year. It increased again during the UCP’s first year, but has been dropping every year since then.

Last year marked the first time since the PCs were in government that the percentage of university-educated workers in part-time jobs fell below 14%.

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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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