AB’s jobless rate is up, 3rd highest increase in Canada

Despite Alberta gaining over 20,000 new jobs last month, we also gained over 33,000 new job seekers, which means roughly 13,000 of them didn’t get a job. And that’s just the new ones.

The federal government released their January 2023 job numbers last week, and job numbers are up in Alberta.

The net increase to jobs between last month and December was 20,700. That follows an increase of 24,500 in total jobs the previous month.

Among workers 25 years of age and older, women workers saw the larger job increases between December and January. There were 10,600 more women over 25 back at work last month compared to December. That number jumps to 12,900 if you include those who are 15–24 years old.

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On the other hand, 8,500 more men over 25 were employed in January over the previous month—but that changes to only 7,800 more men if you include the younger group.

Statistics Canada provided no data on non-binary workers.

Here’s how Alberta’s new jobs compare to the other provinces:

Dec 2022Jan 2023Change% change

Alberta saw the third largest increase in total jobs, behind only Ontario and Québec. However, that’s down from the second largest increase they saw in December. As well, their increase, relative to the number of employed workers in December, was actually the fourth largest, behind Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Québec.

In Alberta, 10 job sectors saw job gains for January (with wholesale and retail trade seeing the highest gains: 58,700).

The 6 remaining sectors reported by Statistics Canada saw job losses in Alberta:

  • Transportation and warehousing (-16,600)
  • Business, building and other support services (-6,700)
  • Public administration (-3,800)
  • Agriculture (-3,700)
  • Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (-3,000)
  • Professional, scientific and technical services (-500)

Combined, these 6 industries lost 34,300 jobs.

Labour Force Survey in brief: Interactive app, Statistics Canada

Compared to a year ago, the industry with the highest job gains was “professional, scientific and technical services”. “Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas” saw the largest decrease over the last year.

Jan 2022Jan 2023Change% change
Professional, scientific and technical services197,400251,20053,80027.25%
Public administration106,800116,1009,3008.71%
Other services (except public administration)91,100100,1009,0009.88%
Accommodation and food services117,700124,1006,4005.44%
Wholesale and retail trade364,100368,0003,9001.07%
Business, building and other support services69,00072,7003,7005.36%
Information, culture and recreation78,40081,4003,0003.83%
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing123,400125,4002,0001.62%
Transportation and warehousing131,100132,8001,7001.30%
Educational services168,700169,0003000.18%
Health care and social assistance316,400312,800-3,600-1.14%
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas145,800131,100-14,700-10.08%

The report shows that Alberta’s private sector grew by 29,900 between December and January. There were 93,200 more private-sector jobs than this time last year. Public sector jobs were up by 6,500 over December but lower than January 2022 by 3,400. Self employed jobs were down by 15,800 over December but up by 9,600 over January 2022.

Part-time jobs made up most of the job gains last month. Alberta gained 13,800 part-time jobs (seasonally adjusted) between December and January, but they gained 6,800 part-time jobs.

There were 13,600 women full-time workers who gained jobs last month. By comparison, the number of men who worked full-time shrunk by 6,700 during the same period.

In June 2019, the month before the Job Creation Tax Cut came into effect, there were 1,886,700 people working full-time. Last month, there were 1,977,400. That means that there are 90,700 more full-time jobs than there were before the UCP cut the tax on corporate profits.

That being said, full-time jobs still make up a smaller percentage of total jobs now than they did before the Job Creation Tax Cut. In June 2019, full-time jobs made up 82.5% of all jobs in the province. Last month, they were at 81.4%, down from the 82.1% it was at in December.

While we technically have more full-time jobs than we did 3 years ago, those jobs haven’t kept up with population growth, which means more people are working part-time jobs, relative to the number of people employed in Alberta.

Speaking of full-time jobs, wages for full-time workers were up 6¢ last month, from an average of $36.06 an hour in December. This marks 6 months of wage increases in Alberta, but they’re still lower than they were in April, when they sat at $36.30.

Part-time wages increased from $24.33 an hour in December to $24.34 in January.

The average wage for both full-time and part-time jobs decreased to $34.08 an hour last month from $34.04 in December.

By industry, wages increased in 7 of the 16 reported sectors. However, the following sectors saw wage decreases:

Dec 2022Jan 2023Change
Information, culture and recreation$30.95$27.43-$3.52
Fin., ins., real estate, rental, leasing$36.32$35.29-$1.03
Wholesale and retail trade$25.95$25.51-$0.44
Health care and social assistance$32.97$32.76-$0.21
Bus., bldg & other support serv.$26.86$26.67-$0.19
Transportation and warehousing$32.37$32.23-$0.14

When we compare wage growth of all the provinces over the previous month, Alberta saw the second largest decrease in wages, coming behind only Saskatchewan.

Alberta’s wage decrease was also smaller than the change in the national average wage increase, which increased by 34¢ an hour.

Dec 2022Jan 2023Change

Despite the addition of nearly 25,000 new jobs to its economy, Alberta saw its unemployment rate increased to 6% last month, up from 5.6% in December. That’s the highest unemployment rate Alberta has seen since last April.

That’s because Alberta’s labour force also increased by over 33,000, which means all the new jobs were swallowed up by the new workers. Even then, there were nearly 13,000 new people in the labour force who didn’t end up with a job.

The participation rate increased slightly from 69.6% to 70.3%, which means more of Alberta’s population is available for work than the month before.

As far as how it compares with the rest of the country, Alberta’s unemployment rate is fourth highest. Alberta’s unemployment rate was lower than just 3 other provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador (11.8%), Prince Edward Island (7.7), and New Brunswick (7.5%). Alberta’s neighbours—BC and Saskatchewan—are at 4.4% and 4.3%, respectively. Québec had the lowest unemployment rate, at 3.9%, more than two full percentage points lower than Alberta’s.

As well, Alberta’s increase of 0.4 points was the third largest increase in unemployment in the country, behind just PEI (2.0) and Newfoundland and Labrador (1.7).

Canada saw an increase in employment last month, with jobs across the country jumping up by 150,000, the bulk of which occurred in Ontario, which increased by 62,800. Alberta’s gain of 20,7500 jobs was the third largest increase of all the provinces. Québec was second with 47,400 new jobs. Newfoundland and Labrador saw the largest decrease, losing 2,300 jobs.

The national unemployment rate sat at 5.0%, down which is where it was in December.

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By Kim Siever

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

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