Alberta lost nearly 100,000 full-time jobs in Nov & Dec

November and December were the only months since May when Alberta saw losses in full-time jobs, a combined 95,300.

The federal government released their December 2020 job numbers yesterday, and for the second month in a row, job numbers are down in Alberta.

The net decrease to jobs was 11,900. Alberta had seen job increases in 7 months in a row, since last May. During that time, it had seen 258,100 jobs “created”. This loss brings the total jobs increase since the economy reopened down to 235,400

Remember, however, that this follows two months of record job losses. Between February and April, Alberta lost 360,900 jobs, which means that there are still 125,500 lost jobs that haven’t recovered. A little more than 1 in 3 of the jobs lost during the pandemic shutdown—34.8% actually—remains unfilled.

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And even with these increases, Alberta’s employment rate is still 5.4 points lower than what it was prior to the pandemic (last month, it was 4.9 points). Every other province in the country, except Manitoba, is closer to their pre-pandemic employment rate than Alberta is.

Among workers 25 years of age and older, women workers made up most of the job gains. There were 4,100 more women over 25 out of work last month compared to November. On the other hand, 5,400 more men over 25 were unemployed in November over the previous month, a decrease of 0.5%.

In Alberta, 10 sectors saw some job gains for December (with business, building and other support services seeing the highest gains: 6,600; granted they’d lost 11,800 jobs in November, so it’s not really much of a gain). And 4 of those sectors gained fewer than 1000 jobs.

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

  • Information, culture and recreation (-10,600)
  • Construction (-10,500)
  • Accommodation and food services (-9,300)
  • Finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing (-3,800)
  • Other services (-1,400)
  • Agriculture (-800)

Combined, these 9 industries lost 36,400 jobs.

Labour Force Survey in brief: Interactive app, Statistics Canada

Compared to a year ago, the industry with the highest job losses has been accommodation and food services, while health care and social assistance saw the largest increase over the last year.

SectorChange% change
Accommodation and food services-51,200-33.2%
Professional, scientific and technical services-13,700-7.1%
Information, culture and recreation-12,300-16%
Educational services-11,00-6.7%
Business, building and other support services-10,300-13.4%
Other services (except public administration)-4,200-4%
Wholesale and retail trade-3,800-1.1%
Public administration-3,600-3.4%
Transportation and warehousing-700-0.5%
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas3,7002.7%
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing5,8005.3%
Health care and social assistance9,3003.1%

The report shows that Alberta’s private sector shrunk by 6,500 between November and December, and there were 121,000 fewer private sector jobs than this time last year. Public sector jobs were up by 1,900 over November and higher than December 2019 by 3,900. Self employed jobs were down by 7,300 over November and 15,600 lower than they were in December 2019.

Part-time jobs made up most of the job losses. Alberta lost 45,100 full-time jobs between November and December, but lost 68,800 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 Jun, July, August, September, and October being the only months when we saw an increase in full-time jobs (72,000, 30,000, 8,200, 34,500, and 12,800 respectively). Alberta lost 252,800 full-time jobs during the pandemic. The increases over those 5 months brought the full-time job deficit to 95,300. If we add this month’s loss to November’s loss of 40,200, that full-time deficit increases to 180,600.

If we include all the full-time job numbers both before and during the shutdown, the total number of full-time jobs lost since July 2019 are 233,200.

That’s 12,956 full-time jobs lost every month since July 2019, on average.

Alberta’s unemployment rate was 11.0%, down 0.1 points since November and significantly higher than the 7.2% it was prior to the pandemic. The participation rate dropped slightly to 68.9% since November, which means fewer people are actually looking for work. Plus, after Newfoundland and Labrador, our unemployment rate is the highest in the country.

Canada saw a decrease in employment last month, with national jobs going down by 63,000. This was the first decline in jobs nationally since April and wiped out all of the 62,000 new jobs created in November.

Combined with other increases during the latter part of the pandemic, employment is still 592,800 below pre-pandemic levels in the country. Jobs were down in all provinces except BC, which saw an increase of 3,800.

The national unemployment rate increased to 8.6%, up slightly from November’s 8.5%, but still down from October’s 8.9%, September’s 9.0%, August’s 10.2%, July’s 10.9%, June’s 12.3%, and May’s record 13.7%. It’s still higher than the pre-pandemic 5.6% the country saw in February.

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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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