Alberta lost 10,000 full-time jobs in Feb 2022

Alberta was the only province west of Atlantic Canada with unemployment still over 6%.

The federal government released their February 2022 job numbers earlier this week, and job numbers are up in Alberta.

The net increase to jobs between last month and January was 8,200.

Compared to February 2020, the month before the Alberta government implemented pandemic restrictions for the first time, total jobs are up 41,600.

Among workers 25 years of age and older, women workers saw the larger job increases, by far, between January and February. There were 5,200 more women over 25 back at work last month compared to January. That number increases to 6,300 if you include those who are 15–24 years old.

On the other hand, 2,600 fewer men over 25 were employed in January over the previous month—but the loss drops to only 500 fewer men if you include the younger group.

Statistics Canada provided no data on non-binary workers.

In Alberta, 9 job sectors saw job gains for November (with “other services” seeing the highest gains: 7,700).

The finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing sector saw no change in employment in January 2022, but the 6 remaining sectors reported by Statistics Canada saw job losses in Alberta:

  • Transportation and warehousing (-12,000)
  • Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (-5,000)
  • Public administration (-3,500)
  • Health care and social assistance (-3,000)
  • Manufacturing (-2,800)
  • Utilities (-1,500)

Combined, these 9 industries lost 27,800 jobs.

Labour Force Survey in brief: Interactive app, Statistics Canada

Compared to a year ago, the industry with the highest job losses was “agriculture”. “Accommodation and food services” saw the largest increase over the last year. That was the case in January 2022, as well.

Change% change
Accommodation & food services23,90022.63%
Professional, scientific & technical services23,80013.46%
Wholesale & retail trade22,5006.71%
Information, culture & recreation20,90035.19%
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil & gas10,3007.53%
Health care & social assistance7,4002.39%
Public administration4,3004.33%
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental, leasing3,8003.47%
Educational services2,7001.68%
Transportation & warehousing-1,800-1.40%
Other services (except public admin)-3,200-3.24%
Business, building & other support services-3,900-5.08%

The report shows that Alberta’s private sector grew by 17,600 between January and February, but there were 122,800 more private-sector jobs than this time last year. Public sector jobs were down by 17,600 over January but lower than February 2021 by 5,400. Self employed jobs were up by 8,100 over January but there were 5,600 fewer than they were in February 2021.

Part-time jobs made up all of the job gains last month. Alberta gained 17,700 part-time jobs (seasonally adjusted) between January and February, yet they lost 9,600 full-time jobs.

This is the second month in a row that Alberta has seen a loss in full-time jobs, which means we’ve yet to see an increase in full-time jobs during 2022.

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).

In February 2020, there were 1,850,000 people working full-time in Alberta. Last month, that number was 1,854,700. That means there are 4,700 more people working full-time now than there were just before the pandemic.

However, in June 2019, the month before the Job Creation Tax Cut came into effect, there were 1,886,700 people working full-time. that means that we’re still missing 32,000 full-time jobs, despite there being more people working full-time now than there were just before the pandemic hit.

Not only that, but full-time jobs 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 80.1%, which is down from the 80.8% we saw in January.

Speaking of full-time jobs, wages for full-time workers were up 57¢ last month, from $34.78 an hour in January. This is the lowest average full-time hourly wages have been since January.

Part-time wages also decreased, from $22.50 an hour in January to $23.17 in February, it’s highest level since February 2021. The average wage for both full-time and part-time jobs increased to $32.96 an hour last month from $32.50 in January.

By industry, wages increased in 9 of the 16 reported sectors. However, the following sectors saw wage decreases:

Transportation & warehousing$32.16$30.95-$1.21
Information, culture & recreation$28.55$27.39-$1.16
Accommodation & food services$18.08$17.72-$0.36
Public administration$42.51$42.16-$0.35
Other services (except public admin)$28.46$28.24-$0.22

Alberta’s unemployment rate was 6.8%, down from 7.2% in January. This is the first time it has dropped below 7.0% since September 2019.

The participation rate decreased slightly to 69.4%, compared to 69.6% in January. Alberta had 2,700 fewer people participating in the labour force last month than they did in January. And when you have more people working but fewer people in the labour force, it’s going to cause the unemployment rate to drop.

As far as how it compares with the rest of the country, Alberta’s unemployment rate is fourth highest, bumping them up from fifth highest last month. It was surpassed by and 3 of the Atlantic provinces (7.9–12.3%). In fact, it has the highest unemployment rate in Western Canada and is the only province west of Atlantic Canada with unemployment still above 6%. Ontario’s is only 5.5%, and Alberta’s neighbours—BC and Saskatchewan—are at 4.9% and 4.7%, respectively.

Canada saw an increase in employment last month, with jobs across the country rising by 336,000, the bulk of which occurred in Ontario and Québec. BC was third with 21,000 new jobs, 2.5 times more than Alberta.

The national unemployment rate decreased to 5.5%, down from January’s 6.5% and finally lower than the pre-pandemic 5.7% 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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