Over 10,000 Alberta women lost their job in May 2021

Full-time jobs were up by 51,000. Part-time jobs were down by 10,100.

The federal government released their May 2021 job numbers last week, and job numbers are down in Alberta for the second month in a row.

The net decrease to jobs was 1,000. 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 296,800. That means the increases in January through March make up for the losses seen in November and December, and now April and May.

Remember, however, that these 296,800 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 64,100 lost jobs that haven’t recovered. About 1 in 6 of the jobs lost during the pandemic shutdown—17.8% actually—remains unfilled.

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Among workers 25 years of age and older, women workers saw the larger job loses, by far. There were 11,500 fewer women over 25 out of work last month compared to April. That number improves to 10,100 if you include those who are 15–24 years old. On the other hand, 7,200 more men over 25 were employed in May over the previous month, 9,100 if you include the younger group.

In Alberta, 9 sectors saw job gains for May (with forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil, and gas seeing the highest gains: 7,700). And 3 of those sectors gained fewer than 1000 jobs.

Of the remaining sectors reported by Statistics Canada, 6 saw job losses in Alberta:

  • Other services (-11,400)
  • Accommodation and food services(-5,100)
  • Utilities (-5,000)
  • Health care and social assistance (-4,800)
  • Wholesale and retail trade (-1,200)
  • Agriculture (-300)

Combined, these 9 industries lost 30,300 jobs.

The public administration sector saw no change in jobs last month.

Labour Force Survey in brief: Interactive app, Statistics Canada

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

Change% change
Wholesale and retail trade62,80023.4%
Health care and social assistance35,60013.3%
Educational services32,80023.9%
Professional, scientific and technical services22,90014.0%
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas19,60015.6%
Transportation and warehousing15,60014.2%
Finance, insurance, real estate, renta, leasing14,50014.1%
Accommodation and food services8,5009.8%
Business, building and other support services3,1004.3%
Information, culture and recreation3,1005.2%
Other services (except public administration)6000.7%
Public administration6000.6%

The report shows that Alberta’s private sector shrunk by 500 between April and May, but there were 238,500 more private sector jobs than this time last year. Public sector jobs were down by 2,000 over April but higher than May 2020 by 49,400. Self employed jobs were up by 1,500 over April and 25,3000 lower than they were in May 2020.

Full-time jobs made up all of the job gains. Alberta gained 51,000 full-time jobs (seasonally unadjusted) between April and May, but lost 10,100 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 May this year and the losses from November and December last year, that full-time deficit decreases to 60,500. 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 113,100.

That’s 5,141 full-time jobs lost every month since July 2019, on average.

Alberta’s unemployment rate was 8.7%, down 0.3 points since April. This is the fourth 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 decreased slightly to 68.8% since March, which means fewer people are actually looking for work. So, while only 1,000 jobs were lost last month, 8,000 fewer people were no longer counted in the labour force, likely because of the restrictions implemented by the Alberta government.

And since the unemployment rate is the percentage of the labour force not employed, having a lower participation rate will cause your unemployment rate to drop. For example, while the unemployment rate dropped from 9.0% to 8.7%, the employment rate also dropped, from 62.9% to 62.8%.

As far as how it compares with the rest of the country, Alberta’s unemployment rate is smack dab in the middle. Five of the provinces—Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, PEI, Ontario, and New Brunswick—have higher unemployment rates, while the other 3—Saskatchewan, Québec, and Manitoba—have lower ones.

Canada saw a decrease in employment last month, with national jobs going down by 68,000.

The national unemployment rate decreased to 8.2%, up from April’s 8.1% and 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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