Alberta gained over 20,000 part-time jobs in March 2021

Full-time jobs were up by 15,100, but we’re still short nearly 200,000 full-time jobs, compared to July 2019, when the UCP introduced their Job Creation Tax Cut.

The federal government released their March 2021 job numbers last week, and job numbers are up in Alberta for the third month in a row.

The net increase to jobs was 37,000. Alberta had seen job increases in 7 months in a row, since last May. During that time, it had seen 258,100 jobs “created”. We saw job losses in November and December, but with this new gain, the total jobs increase since the economy reopened last May is at 310,400. That means the increases in January through March make up for the losses seen in November and December.

Remember, however, that these 310,400 new jobs follow two months of record job losses. Between February and April last year, Alberta lost 360,900 jobs, which means that there are still 50,500 lost jobs that haven’t recovered. About 1 in 7 of the jobs lost during the pandemic shutdown—14% actually—remains unfilled.

Among workers 25 years of age and older, women workers made up most of the job gains. There were 14,800 fewer men over 25 out of work last month compared to February. On the other hand, 8,300 fewer men over 25 were unemployed in March over the previous month.

In Alberta, 13 sectors saw some job gains for March (with educational services seeing the highest gains: 11,500). And 2 of those sectors gained fewer than 1000 jobs.

The remaining 3 sectors reported by Statistics Canada saw job losses in Alberta:

  • Business, building, and other support services(-3,200)
  • Public administration (-200)
  • Accomodation and food services (-200)

Combined, these 3 industries lost 3,600 jobs.

Labour Force Survey in brief: Interactive app, Statistics Canada

Compared to a year ago, the industry with the highest job losses has been manufacturing, while wholesale and retail trade saw the largest increase over the last year.

This is the third month in a row where accommodation and food services saw a year-over-year decline. Despite seeing over 20,000 more jobs last month than in February, compared to the same time last year, this sector is still short nearly 7,000 jobs.

Change% change
Accommodation and food services-7,000-6.3%
Public administration-5,600-5.3%
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas-2,100-1.5%
Information, culture and recreation1000.2%
Business, building and other support services1,0001.4%
Other services (except public administration)1,3001.3%
Professional, scientific and technical services2,1001.2%
Transportation and warehousing11,5009.7%
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing11,90012.2%
Educational services19,30012.6%
Health care and social assistance31,50011.3%
Wholesale and retail trade33,50011.0%

The report shows that Alberta’s private sector grew by 30,100 between February and March, and there were 45,800 fewer private sector jobs than this time last year. Public sector jobs were up by 7,800 over February and higher than March 2020 by 29,400. Self employed jobs were down by 800 over February and 3,700 lower than they were in March 2020.

Part-time jobs made up most of the job gains. Alberta gained 15,100 full-time jobs (seasonally unadjusted) between February and March, but gained 20,100 part-time jobs.

Between July 2019—when Jason Kenney introduced his so-called Job Creation Tax Cut—and February 2020, Alberta saw 4 months with drops in full-time jobs, for a total of 52,600 full-time job losses (if you account for gains made in other months).

Full-time numbers worsened dramatically during the pandemic, with June through October being the only months when we saw an increase in full-time jobs. Alberta lost 252,800 full-time jobs during the pandemic last year. The increases over those 5 months brought the full-time job deficit down to 95,300. If we add in the gains between January and March this year and the losses from November and December last year, that full-time deficit decreases to 145,000. Still not where we were in October, and nowhere close to where we were prior to the pandemic.

If we include all the full-time job numbers both before and during the shutdown, the total net number of full-time jobs lost since July 2019 are 197,600.

That’s 12,350 full-time jobs lost every month since July 2019, on average.

Alberta’s unemployment rate was 9.1%, down 0.8 points since February. This is the second time during the pandemic that it’s been below 10%, but it’s still significantly higher than the 7.2% it was prior to the pandemic. The participation rate increased slightly to 69.6% since February, which means more people are actually looking for work. Alberta has the third highest unemployment rate in the country, after Newfoundland and Labrador (12.4%) and New Brunswick (9.1%).

Canada saw an increase in employment last month, with national jobs going up by 303,100.

The national unemployment rate decreased to 7.5%, down from February’s 8.2% but still higher than the pre-pandemic 5.6% the country saw in February 2020.

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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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