Alberta’s August unemployment rate 4th highest in Canada

And that’s despite gaining nearly 20,000 new jobs.

The federal government released their August 2021 job numbers earlier this month, and job numbers are up in Alberta for the second month in a row.

The net increase to jobs between last month and July was 19,500.

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. With this new gain (and gains in July), the total jobs increase since the economy reopened last May is at 328,400. That means the increases in January through March—and now July and August—make up for the losses seen in November, December, April, May, and June.

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Remember, however, that these 328,400 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 32,500 lost jobs that haven’t recovered. About 1 in 11 of the jobs lost during the pandemic shutdown—9% actually—remains unfilled.

Among workers 25 years of age and older, men workers saw the larger job increases, by far. There were 9,600 more men over 25 back at work last month compared to July. That number decreases to 8,200 if you include those who are 15–24 years old. On the other hand, 5,100 more women over 25 were employed in August over the previous month—but it jumps to 11,200 more women if you include the younger group.

In Alberta, 8 job sectors saw job gains for August (with Transportation and warehousing seeing the highest gains: 11,600).

Of the remaining sectors reported by Statistics Canada, 7 saw job losses in Alberta:

  • Business, building and other support services (-3,800)
  • Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil & gas (-3,400)
  • Manufacturing (-2,400)
  • Agriculture (-2,000)
  • Finance, insurance, real estate, rental & leasing (-1,900)
  • Other (-1,000)
  • Construction (-900)

Combined, these 7 industries lost 15,400 jobs.

Labour Force Survey in brief: Interactive app, Statistics Canada

Educational services saw no change in job numbers.

Compared to a year ago, the industry with the highest job losses was agriculture. Educational services saw the largest increase over the last year, which makes it 3 months of consecutive year-over-year increases.

Change% change
Educational services32,30023.0%
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil & gas22,50018.5%
Transportation and warehousing18,90015.9%
Wholesale and retail trade17,2005.5%
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental & leasing16,30015.7%
Accommodation and food services13,70011.6%
Professional, scientific & technical services9,1005.0%
Health care and social assistance7,6002.6%
Public administration3,2003.3%
Other services (except public administration)-2,100-2.1%
Information, culture and recreation-3,000-4.0%
Business, building & other support services-3,400-4.7%

The report shows that Alberta’s private sector grew by 15,600 between July and August, but there were 8,500 more private sector jobs than this time last year. Public sector jobs were up by 1,500 over July but higher than August 2020 by 6,300. Self employed jobs were up by 2,300 over July and 3,600 lower than they were in August 2020.

Full-time jobs made up all of the job gains. Alberta gained 16,300 full-time jobs (seasonally adjusted) between July and August, as well as 3,100 new 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 2020 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, May, July, and August this year, as well as the losses from the others months, that full-time deficit decreases to 61,100.

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 113,700.

That’s 4,373 full-time jobs lost every month since July 2019, on average.

Alberta’s unemployment rate was 7.9%, down 0.6 points since July. This is the seventh time during the pandemic that it’s been below 10%, but it’s still higher than the 7.2% it was at prior to the pandemic.

The participation rate remained steady at 69% compared to July.

As far as how it compares with the rest of the country, Alberta’s unemployment rate is fourth highest (up from fifth last month), being surpassed by 3 of the Atlantic provinces.

Canada saw an increase in employment last month, with national jobs going up by 90,200.

The national unemployment rate decreased to 7.1%, down from July’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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