Statistics Canada recently released data on payroll employment for each of the provinces. The seasonally adjusted data was as of May 2023.
This data is different from the labour force data I reported on for May, in that this specifically reports on workers who are on payroll.
In particular, it includes full-time employees, part-time employees, as well as permanent, casual, temporary, and seasonal employees. It also includes working owners, directors, partners, and other officers of incorporated businesses, as well as employees who work at home or on the road but report to the location.
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However, what it doesn’t include are owners or partners of unincorporated businesses and professional practices, the self-employed, subcontractors, external consultants, unpaid family workers, persons working outside Canada, and military personnel, as well as employees on unpaid leave, such as those on extended sick leave who are receiving insurance benefits.
I figured I’d take a look to see how the job situation looks in each province for May 2023.
Unsurprisingly, Alberta had the fourth largest number of payroll employees in Canada. After all, they do have the fourth largest population in general.
In May 2023, there were 2,113,562 payroll employees working in Alberta. The month before, that number was 2,105,847. That’s a 7,715 increase, the fifth largest increase in the country.
|Apr 2023||May 2023||Change||% change|
Québec saw the largest increase in payroll employees (45,791), followed by Ontario, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia. Newfoundland and Labrador, which lost over 1,500 payroll employees, was the only province to see a decrease.
When we look at the increase as a percentage of April’s job numbers, we see that Alberta had the second smallest increase, at only 0.37%.
Alberta had the fourth largest increase when we compare to May 2022, a year earlier and just over two years after the province first introduced public health protections related to the pandemic.
Alberta jumps to first place, however, in terms of percentage change over that year.
Here is what things look like going back to May 2021, two years prior and a little over a year into the pandemic.
|May 2021||May 2023||Change||% change|
Alberta had the fourth largest increase in payroll employment once again. We had the second largest percentage-based increase, slightly behind only Ontario.
However, things start to look less rosy the further we go back.
For example, check out what the numbers look like when compared to May 2020, 10 months since the UCP government introduced what they dubbed the “Job Creation Tax Cut” and 2 months after the government introduced public health protections related to the pandemic.
|May 2020||May 2023||Change||% change|
Alberta’s growth in payroll employees since May 2020 was still the fourth best of all the provinces in Canada, in total numbers. However, that growth was drastically lower than the 3 larger provinces. For example, British Columbia, which was only one spot above Alberta, saw an increase in payroll employment that was more than 28% as large as Alberta’s, despite having a population that is only 14% larger.
On a percentage basis, Alberta actually drops from second to fourth place amongst all provinces, coming in at 30.91%.
Ontario saw an increase in nearly 1.7 million payroll employees during the same period. Québec and BC were the only other provinces to pass the 500,000 mark.
Finally, let’s compare this year’s May numbers to May 2019, the month after the UCP won their first provincial election.
|May 2019||May 2023||Change||% change|
Once again, Alberta saw the fourth largest increase in absolute numbers, but, once again, it trails behind the three other large provinces. Ontario passed the 300,000 mark, and both Québec and BC passed 200,000. BC’s increase was 2.5 times larger than the increase that Alberta saw, despite having, as I said earlier, only 14% more people living there.
By percentage, Alberta was in third-to-last place, at just 3.65%.
Keep in mind that Alberta’s population increased by 7.3% during the same period—or rather between March 2019 and March 2023—which means the growth in payroll jobs of barely 4% we did see wasn’t even enough to give jobs to the people who were moving to the province, let alone those who were already here and were still unemployed.
PEI saw the largest increase in percentage growth, at 13.77%.
On that note, PEI’s corporate tax rate is 16%. Despite having a corporate income tax rate that is twice as high as Alberta’s, PEI was able to grow their payroll employees by over 3 times more than Alberta could.
Maybe how low a tax on corporate profits is actually has no bearing on job growth.
Finally, here’s a look at the monthly growth in payroll employees for Alberta since May 2019.
While it might seem impressive on the surface that Alberta saw an increase of 252,802 payroll employees over the last 2 years, it looks like most of that was recovery from the pandemic.
In fact, as I pointed out earlier, over the last 4 years, from just as the pandemic was starting, Alberta saw an increase of just 82,824 payroll employees. That means that of the 252,802 additional payroll employees we’ve seen since May 2021, 169,978 are likely exclusively recovery positions. That works out to about 67.2%.
Not only that, but between May 2019 and February 2020, Alberta had lost 13,444 payroll employees, so we were already on a decline before the pandemic hit.
And it wasn’t even until last April—over 3 years—that we finally passed the number of payroll employees we had in April 2019.