Despite 11K more jobs, AB can’t reduce unemployment

Alberta has gained nearly 70,000 new jobs since May 2022. Despite all those new jobs, however, our unemployment rate is the same now as it was then.

The federal government released their June 2023 job numbers last week, and job numbers are up in Alberta.

The net increase to jobs between last month and May was 10,600.

Among workers 25 years of age and older, men workers saw the larger job increases between May and June. There were 14,500 more men over 25 back at work last month compared to May. That number jumps to 18,400, however, if you include those who are 15–24 years old.

On the other hand, 4,700 fewer women over 25 were employed in June over the previous month—but that drops even further to 7,800 fewer women if you include the younger group.

Statistics Canada provided no data on non-binary workers.

Here’s how Alberta’s new jobs compare to the other provinces:

May 2023Jun 2023Change% change

Alberta saw the second largest increase in total jobs among all provinces that saw increases. They had the fourth largest percentage decrease in new jobs, at 0.43%.

Ontario saw the largest increase in new jobs, with nearly 56,000 more people working last month than in May. Newfoundland and Labrador saw the largest percentage increase: just shy of 1%.

In Alberta, 8 job sectors saw job gains for April (with wholesale and retail trade seeing the highest gains: 12,100).

The other 8 remaining sectors reported by Statistics Canada saw job losses in Alberta:

  • Educational services: (-11,100)
  • Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing: (-3,500)
  • Construction: (-2,000)
  • Professional, scientific and technical services: (-1,200)
  • Utilities: (-500)
  • Information, culture and recreation: (-400)
  • Manufacturing: (-300)
  • Agriculture: (-200)

Combined, these 9 industries lost 19,200 jobs.

Labour Force Survey in brief: Interactive app, Statistics Canada

Compared to a year ago, the industry with the highest job gains was “professional, scientific and technical services”. “Business, building and other support services” saw the largest decrease over the last year.

Jun 2022Jun 2023Change% change
Professional, scientific and technical services217,200240,40023,20010.68%
Health care and social assistance306,000322,60016,6005.42%
Transportation and warehousing133,400148,90015,50011.62%
Wholesale and retail trade361,700373,50011,8003.26%
Public administration108,900115,9007,0006.43%
Other services (except public administration)95,600100,6005,0005.23%
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing130,400129,800-600-0.46%
Information, culture and recreation85,90083,900-2,000-2.33%
Accommodation and food services132,300129,200-3,100-2.34%
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas137,400132,900-4,500-3.28%
Educational services169,900160,600-9,300-5.47%
Business, building and other support services80,00069,000-11,000-13.75%

The report from Statistics Canada also shows that Alberta’s private sector grew by 82,500 between May and June. There were 469,400 more private-sector jobs than this time last year. Public sector jobs were down by 3,600 over May but higher than June 2022 by 32,400. Self employed jobs were down by 19,100 over May but down by 31,900 over June 2022.

Full-time jobs made up most of the job gains last month. Alberta gained 800 part-time jobs (seasonally adjusted) between May and June, and they gained 9,800 full-time jobs.

There were 13,400 more men full-time workers who gained jobs last month. By comparison, the number of women who worked full-time decreased by 3,500 during the same period.

In June 2019, the month before the Job Creation Tax Cut came into effect, there were 1,886,700 people working full-time. Last month, there were 2,013,800. That means that there are 127,100 more full-time jobs than there were before the UCP cut the tax on corporate profits.

That being said, full-time jobs still make up a smaller percentage of total jobs now than they did before the Job Creation Tax Cut. In June 2019, full-time jobs made up 82.5% of all jobs in the province.

Last month, they were at 81.9%, which is the same as it was at in April and May. Never mind what it was back before the UCP cut the tax on corporations with more than half a million dollars in profits.

While we technically have more full-time jobs than we did 4 years ago, those jobs haven’t kept up with population growth, which means more people are working part-time jobs, relative to the number of people employed in Alberta.

Speaking of full-time jobs, wages for full-time workers increased by 34¢, from an average of $36.29 an hour in May.

Part-time wages, on the other hand, decreased from $25.87 an hour in May to $24.40 in June. The average wage for both full-time and part-time jobs combined increased to $34.72 an hour last month from $34.63 in May.

By industry, wages increased in 9 of the 16 reported sectors.

May 2023Jun 2023Change
Public administration$41.84$43.74$1.90
Information, culture and recreation$27.37$28.98$1.61
Educational services$38.87$39.93$1.06
Business, building and other support services$27.96$28.85$0.89
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing$36.87$37.65$0.78
Wholesale and retail trade$26.73$27.37$0.64
Health care and social assistance$33.05$33.54$0.49
Accommodation and food services$18.86$18.75-$0.11
Other services (except public administration)$29.92$29.68-$0.24
Professional, scientific and technical services$42.98$42.28-$0.70
Transportation and warehousing$36.24$35.52-$0.72
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas$55.15$52.31-$2.84

When we compare wage growth of all the provinces over the previous month, Alberta saw the second BEST performance in change of wages. Alberta also had the highest average hourly wage of all the provinces.

May 2023Jun 2023Change

Despite the increase of 10,600 new jobs to its economy, Alberta saw its unemployment rate remain at 5.7% last month, right where it was in May.

That’s because Alberta’s labour force also increased by 13,100, so, if you have 13,100 more people available to work than in May, but only 10,600 more jobs, then it’s not going to result in a lower unemployment rate.

As far as how it compares with the rest of the country, Alberta’s unemployment rate was the fifth highest. Alberta’s unemployment rate was lower than just 4 other provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador (8.8%), Prince Edward Island (8.2%), New Brunswick (6.4%), and Nova Scotia (6.4%).

However, it was tied with Ontario, which was also in 5th place with 5.7%

Alberta’s neighbours—BC and Saskatchewan—are at 5.6% and 4.7%, respectively. Manitoba had the lowest unemployment rate, at 4.3%, nearly 1.5 percentage points lower than Alberta’s.

As far as change in unemployment rate, only two provinces—Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as Manitoba—saw decreases. Everyone else saw an increase, except Alberta, of course, which stayed the same.

That being said, Alberta’s unemployment rate in June 2022 was 5.2%, which means that with all the ups and downs in its unemployment rate over the last year, the percentage of the labour force in Alberta that remains without a job has actually increased.

To be fair, most provinces had a higher unemployment rate last month than they had the year before. Newfoundland and Labrador were the only ones who saw a decrease. Québec and Nova Scotia have the same unemployment rate that they had in June 2022. Of those provinces with a higher unemployment rate, Alberta was tied with Ontario for fifth highest increase.

Canada saw an decrease in employment last month, with jobs across the country rose by 59,900, the bulk of which occurred in Ontario, which increased by 55,800. Québec saw the largest decrease, losing 8,400 jobs.

The national unemployment rate sat at 5.4%, up from 5.2% in May.

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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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