The Alberta government released their April 2020 job numbers yesterday, and—unsurprisingly—they don’t look good.
Last month, Alberta lost over 243,800 jobs: 61,300 part-time jobs and 182,500 full-time jobs. This set a new record, beating out the previous record of 117,100 jobs, which was set just the month before.
This brings the total of jobs lost to 360,900 since the pandemic shut down businesses in March.
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Between July 2019—when Jason Kenney introduced his so-called Job Creation Tax Cut—and Feburary 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). These new numbers make it 6 months of full-time job losses, bringing the total number of full-time jobs lost to 278,600.
That’s nearly 28,000 full-time jobs lost every month since last July, on average.
As mentioned, the combined loss of 117,000 part-time and full-time jobs last month is the largest monthly decline on record in Alberta. Jobs dropped by 11% in April 2020, compared to March, as well as 16.2% compared to April 2019.
These new job losses have pushed Alberta’s unemployment rate to 13.4%, up 8.7% in March and 1.5% from February and the highest it’s been since at least January 1976. It’s higher now than it was during the recession of the 1980s.
Keep in mind, however, that the unemployment rate measures only those who are unemployed and looking for work, so the true percentage of unemployed people is likely higher. In fact, if you include just the 113,500 workers who lost their jobs during March and April and aren’t looking for work, the unemployment rate would be closer to 18%.
Job losses last month occurred in all sectors, but the largest losses were in the wholesale and retail trade (49,800) and accommodation and food services (35,600) sectors. There were significant losses in other industries as well, such as construction (33,200), manufacturing (18,300), and forestry, mining, quarrying, oil and gas (11,700).
Alberta isn’t alone in this job loss, however. Roughly 3 million jobs were lost across Canada over the last 2 months. This loss is significantly larger than Canada experienced during any of the 3 recessions since 1980.
Employment was down 13.5% in Québec, 11% in BC, and 9.6% in Ontario. While Alberta didn’t have the largest drop in the country, its 13.2% was pretty close.
The national unemployment rate jumped to 13%. It was 7.8% in March and 5.6% in February. This was the largest single-month increase in unemployment in Canada on record.
That being said, with low oil prices, businesses closed because of COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, and a global stock market crash, it may be months before these numbers start to reverse. And April may end up not even being the worst month.
While certainly the UCP government can’t be blamed for the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, the COVID-19 pandemic, or the recession caused by the two, we can hold them responsible for their resistance to investing heavily in the public sector to mitigate the effects of the incoming recession.
As a result, it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to avoid a recession, one some analysts say is already here. And even less likely that we’ll be able to get out of it quickly.