Alberta lost over 12,000 jobs in April 2021

Full-time jobs were up by 33,500, but we’re still short over 160,000 full-time jobs, compared to July 2019, when the UCP introduced their Job Creation Tax Cut.

The federal government released their April 2021 job numbers last week, and job numbers are down in Alberta for the first time in months.

The net decrease to jobs was 12,600. Alberta had seen job increases for 7 months in a row, since last May. During that time, it had seen 258,100 jobs “created”. We saw job losses this past November and December, then gains for the first 3 months of 2021. Even with this new loss, the total jobs increase since the economy reopened last May is at 297,800. That means the increases in January through March make up for the losses seen in November and December, and now April.

Remember, however, that these 297,800 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 63,100 lost jobs that haven’t recovered. About 1 in 6 of the jobs lost during the pandemic shutdown—17.5% actually—remains unfilled.

Among workers 25 years of age and older, women workers saw the larger job loses. There were 5,400 fewer women over 25 out of work last month compared to March. On the other hand, 1,500 fewer men over 25 were unemployed in April over the previous month.

In Alberta, only 7 sectors saw some job gains for April (with manufacturing seeing the highest gains: 7,100). And 2 of those sectors gained fewer than 1000 jobs.

The remaining 9 sectors reported by Statistics Canada saw job losses in Alberta:

  • Transportation and warehousing (-7,400)
  • Wholesale and retail trade (-6,400)
  • Educational services (-4,800)
  • Accommodation and food services (-3,900)
  • Agriculture (-2,700)
  • Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas (-2,400)
  • Health care and social assistance (-1,400)
  • Construction (-700)
  • Public administration (-600)

Combined, these 9 industries lost 30,300 jobs.

Labour Force Survey in brief: Interactive app, Statistics Canada

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

Change% change
Wholesale and retail trade73,30028.2%
Health care and social assistance42,60016.0%
Educational services24,40017.0%
Accommodation and food services23,90031.2%
Other services (except public administration)22,90029.0%
Professional, scientific and technical services19,90012.1%
Transportation and warehousing19,00018.2%
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental, leasing15,50015.8%
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas8,8006.8%
Business, building and other support services8,00012.1%
Information, culture and recreation-1,200-1.9%
Public administration-5,800-5.5%

The report shows that Alberta’s private sector shrunk by 9,000 between March and April, and there were 600 fewer private sector jobs than this time last year. Public sector jobs were up by 800 over March and higher than April 2020 by 8,400. Self employed jobs were down by 1,300 over March and 3,000 lower than they were in Alberta 2020.

Full-time jobs made up all of the job gains. Alberta gained 33,500 full-time jobs (seasonally unadjusted) between March and April, but lost 42,500 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 April this year and the losses from November and December last year, that full-time deficit decreases to 111,500. 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 164,100.

That’s 7,459 full-time jobs lost every month since July 2019, on average.

Alberta’s unemployment rate was 9.0%, down 0.1 points since March. This is the third time during the pandemic that it’s been below 10%, but it’s still significantly higher than the 7.2% it was at prior to the pandemic. The participation rate decreased slightly to 69.1% since March, which means fewer people are actually looking for work. Alberta has the second highest unemployment rate in the country, tied with Ontario. Newfoundland and Labrador is the highest, at 13.9%.

Canada saw a decrease in employment last month, with national jobs going down by 207,000.

The national unemployment rate decreased to 8.1%, up from March’s 7.5% 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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