Alberta’s top employing industries in 2022

Earlier this month, Statistics Canada released the annual statistics for labour force characteristics by industry. I went through them to see which industries employed the most people in Alberta.

Earlier this month, Statistics Canada released the annual statistics for labour force characteristics by industry.

I went through them to see which industries employ the most people in Alberta. Here are the top 10 industries for 2022:

IndustryWorkers% of total
Wholesale & retail trade354,50014.84%
Health care & social assistance319,70013.38%
Professional, scientific & technical services228,9009.58%
Educational services165,1006.91%
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil & gas138,3005.79%
Transportation & warehousing135,3005.66%
Accommodation & food services128,5005.38%
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental & leasing119,1004.99%

Here they are in a pie chart:

Combined, these 10 industries contained 81.04% of the jobs in the province in 2022.

I was actually kind of surprised that the industry that employed more people than any other single industry was wholesale and retail trade. I knew that selling consumer goods was significant, but I didn’t realize it was that significant.

Also surprising to me was that health care and social assistance was in second place. Alberta is certainly not known for its nurses and counsellors.

Frankly, construction in third place also kind of surprised me. I figured it’d probably in the top 10—after all it covers so much: housing, institutional, commercial, industrial, infrastructure—but I didn’t realize it’d be so high.

So, where’s oil and gas? Clearly it should be number 1, right? The rhetoric from successive provincial government would certainly make one think so. Obviously it’s not actually: Walmart and Superstore are in first place instead.

No, oil and gas are in 6th place actually.

Not only are more people working as doctors and social workers than there are working as rig pigs, there are more slinging tables and ringing through groceries.

Now, let’s compare the top 10 jobs over the last four Decembers that the UCP have been in power with December 2018, the last December the NDP still held government, using December 2018 as the baseline.

Wholesale & retail trade11111
Health care & social assistance22222
Prof., scientific & tech. serv.44444
For., fish. min., quarrying, O & G58666
Educational services65555
Accommodation & food services761089
Transportation & warehousing99777
Other serv. (except pub. admin.)1012121211

In all four years, the four industries employing the most workers remained the same: wholesale and retail; health care and social assistance; construction; and professional, scientific, and technical services.

Under the UCP, the oil and gas sector dropped from employing the 5th highest number of of workers to employing the 8th highest in just their first year. They managed to climb back up to 6th place the following year, but have never been able to regain the NDP’s spot, let alone surpass it.

However, Alberta employed a larger number of workers in the educational services sector—which includes schools, colleges, and universities (both public and private)—under the UCP, bumping up one spot from 6th place to 5th place in its first year and staying their throughout the entire UCP term.

The hospitality sector has been all over the map, increasing slightly from 7th place to 6th place in the UCP’s first year, then falling to 10th place the following year. It rose to 8th place in 2021, then dropped slightly to 9th place last year.

The manufacturing sector oscillated, as well, falling both below and above the 8th place it held during the NDP’s last year.

The logistics sector remained steady at 9th place during the UCP’s first year, then dropped to 7th place, where it stayed for the last 3 Decembers.

Finally, the “other services (except public administration)” sector made the top 10 only under the NDP. For the first 3 years under the UCP, it sat at 12th place, and then advanced slightly to 11th place last year.

Under the UCP, the 10th spot was occupied by the public administration sector in 2019, the hospitality sector in 2020, and the “finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing” sector in both 2021 and 2022.

So, how do the numbers compare to Canada’s 2022 job numbers?

IndustryWorkers% of total
Wholesale & retail trade2,855,30014.44%
Health care & social assistance2,608,00013.19%
Professional, scientific & technical services1,844,0009.33%
Educational services1,483,8007.51%
Fin., ins., real estate, rental & leasing1,362,9006.89%
Public administration1,154,6005.84%
Accommodation & food services1,099,0005.56%
Transportation & warehousing1,013,4005.13%

Well, it seems that Alberta is on par with the rest of the country for the first two. Even the proportions are similar.

“Professional, scientific and technical services” jumps to 3rd place for the country, however. In Alberta, it’s 4th place.

Alberta’s construction, education, and oil and gas industries employ a higher percentage of total jobs than the country as a whole does. The country’s public administration industry hits the top 10, whereas the province’s lags behind the top 10 (It’s actually 12th, but that doesn’t show up in my table or chart).

The only area that is in the top 10 for Alberta but not for Canada is “forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas”. Nationally, it’s third from last.

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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.

4 replies on “Alberta’s top employing industries in 2022”

Agriculture employed only 47,200 workers at the end of last year. Only the utilities sector employed fewer workers.

This article focuses on just the top 10 industries.

You forgot the most important statistic in your article….close to 25% of provincial revenue comes from the oil sector and thats what supports the other, low paying, service and supply sector portions on the economy in Alberta.

There is no private or governmental (provincially or federal funded) program that provides “top-up” or ancillary income support to Alberta workers in any sector in the Alberta economy. Your point is arrant nonsense!

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