Oct jobs increase Alberta’s 2nd lowest since economy reopened

The employment rate is still 4.4 points lower than what it was prior to the pandemic, the largest gap in the country.

The federal government released their October 2020 job numbers yesterday, and for the 6th month in a row, job numbers are up in Alberta.

The net increase to jobs was 23,400. Compared to the increase of 28,200 in May, 91,600 in June, and 67,000 in July, and 9,700 in August, 38,200 in September, this is the second smallest increase since Alberta started reopening the economy. If we add all of them together, Alberta has seen 258,100 jobs “created” over the last four months.

Remember, however, that this follows two months of record job losses. Between February and April, Alberta lost 360,900 jobs, which means that there are still 102,800 lost jobs that haven’t recovered. A little less than 1 in 3 of the jobs lost during the pandemic shutdown—28% actually—remains unfilled.

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And even with these increases, Alberta’s employment rate is still 4.4 points lower than what it was prior to the pandemic. Every other province in the country is closer to their pre-pandemic employment rate than Alberta is.

Among workers 25 years of age and older, men workers made up all of the job increases. Women over 25 stayed the same at 903,100 compared to September. On the other hand, 16,100 more men over 25 were employed in October over the previous month, an increase of 1.5%.

Most sectors saw some job gains in Alberta for October (with health care and social assistance seeing the highest gains: 8,500). In fact, of the sectors reported by Statistics Canada, only 6 saw job losses in Alberta:

  • Information, culture, and recreation (-7,200)
  • Public administration (-4,100)
  • Agriculture (-4,000)
  • Educational services (-1,800)
  • Business, building, and other support services (-1,000)
  • Accommodation and food services (-900)

Combined, these 6 industries lost 19,000 jobs.

Labour Force Survey in brief: Interactive app, Statistics Canada

Compared to a year ago, the industry with the highest job losses has been accommodation and food services, while health care and social assistance saw the largest increase over the last year.

Oct 19 to
Oct 2020
Accommodation and food services-37,700
Public administration-10,000
Other services (except public administration)-9,400
Business, building and other support services-9,100
Professional, scientific and technical services-7,900
Wholesale and retail trade-7,700
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas-7,300
Educational services-6,300
Transportation and warehousing-4,200
Information, culture and recreation1,500
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing4,200
Health care and social assistance6,000

Surprisingly, compared to a year ago, only 3 sectors in Alberta saw employment increases.

The report shows that Alberta’s private sector grew by 16,500 between September and October, but there were still 139,300 fewer private sector jobs than this time last year. Public sector jobs were down by 2,700 over September but higher than October 2019 by 4,300. Self employed jobs were down by 9,700 over September and 9,700 higher than they were in October 2019.

Full-time jobs made up 54.7% of the new jobs, down from September, when full-time jobs made up 90.3% of the increase.

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).

Full-time numbers worsened dramatically during the pandemic, with Jun, July, August, September, and October being the only months when we saw an increase in full-time jobs (72,000, 30,000, 8,200, 34,500, and 12,800 respectively). Alberta lost 252,800 full-time jobs during the pandemic. The increases over the last four months brings the full-time job deficit to 95,300.

If we include all the full-time job numbers both before and during the shutdown, the total number of full-time jobs lost since July 2019 are 147,900.

That’s over 9,244 full-time jobs lost every month since last July, on average.

Alberta’s unemployment rate was 10.7%, down 1.0 points since September, the fourth drop since the pandemic began, bringing the total drop to 4.8 points. The participation rate dropped slightly to 69.6% since September, which means fewer people are actually looking for work. That being said, the province’s unemployment rate is still significantly higher than the 7.2% it was prior to the pandemic. Plus, after Newfoundland and Labrador, it’s the highest in the country.

Canada also saw an increase in employment, with national jobs going up by 84,000. Combined with other increases during the latter part of the pandemic, employment is still 591,800 below pre-pandemic levels in the country. Jobs were up in most of the provinces (except Québec, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan), but Newfoundland and Labrador and BC led the way.

The national unemployment rate dropped to 8.9%, down from September’s 9.0%, August’s 10.2%, July’s 10.9%, June’s 12.3%, and May’s record 13.7%. It’s still higher than the pre-pandemic 5.6% the country saw in February.

Alberta saw its 6th job increase in a row last month, but only August saw a lower increase since reopening the economy 5 months ago.

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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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