Part-time hospitality jobs skyrocket under UCP

Prior to the UCP gaining power, full-time jobs were on the rise in Alberta’s hospitality sector. Since that time, the sector has reversed that trend.

Last week, Alberta premier, Jason Kenney, sent out the following tweet:

The tweet links to a story from Sarah Offin of Global News, which focuses on the hospitality sector participating in job fairs around Calgary.

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The article claims that “job shortages in the hospitality industry predated the pandemic. Except, I’m not sure how true that is.

According to Statistics Canada data, there were 153,300 workers in the accommodation and food sector in December 2019.

This is the highest it had been since August 2017, when the number of workers had hit 158,800. Not only that, but December 2019 saw the 7th highest number of workers of any month over the previous 10 years.

Between December 2009 and December 2019, Alberta’s accommodation and food sector went from 132,400 workers to 153,300 workers. It grew by more than 20,000 new workers, or a 15.8% increase.

Now, it is true that we have fewer workers in the industry in 2022 than we had two years ago, but it doesn’t seem as though there was a shortage prior to the pandemic.

In February 2020, the month before the provincial government implemented public health protections related to the pandemic, there were 149,200 workers in the accommodation and food sector.

Two years later, in February 2022, that number is at only 127,400. Not only is that 21,800 fewer hospitality workers than right before the pandemic hit, but it’s also 9,000 fewer workers than the sector saw 10 years ago. In February 2012, 136,400 people worked in this sector.

But there is something that this article, Jason Kenney, and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (which the reporter quotes in the article) are leaving out about this sector’s workers.

The hospitality industry in Alberta is growing its part-time jobs and shrinking its full-time jobs.

Let’s compare the sector over the last 3 years, February 2019 through February 2022.

During this period, part-time job in the accommodation and food sector went from making up 38.62% of all jobs in the sector to 52.51%.

And here’s what the average looks like for the last 3 12-month periods ending with February of each year.

Clearly, we see that part-time jobs have been becoming a larger part of this sector’s employment practices over the last 3 years.

But is this part of a longer trend, or is this something specific to the last 3 years?

Here’s the same data but for the 10 years between February 2012 and February 2022.

And here is the annual monthly average for each of those 10 years, with each year ending in February.

Sure enough, part-time jobs becoming a larger proportion of the hospitality workforce is part of a longer trend. Over the last decade, the percentage of part-time jobs in the accommodation and food services sector have consistently increase.

In February 2012, part-time jobs made up 33.21% of the jobs in this sector. 10 years later, that share is 52.51%. During that same period, the annual average increased from 29.16% ro 48.58%.

However, there was a short period during this decade when the share actually dropped. During the last half of the NDP’s administration, part-time hospitality jobs decreased, relative to the number of total jobs in the sector. They went from 40.86% in February 2017 to 35.98% in February 2018 and 34.88% in February 2019.

And with part-time jobs decreasing under the NDP, that means the number of full-time jobs in the sector started increasing.

But those full-time jobs were short-lived.

The first year the UCP were in power, the percentage of part-time jobs in the hospitality sector jumped nearly 7 percentage points, the largest single-year increase over the last 10 years. And it increased another 6 points over the next 2 years.

During the first 3 years of this reporting period—2014 through 2017—the annual average share of part-time jobs increased by 9.9 points, or about 3.3 points per year.

Over the last 3 years (2019–2022), they jumped by 13.7 points, or 4.6 points per year.

So while part-time jobs have been becoming a larger share of total accommodation and food services jobs for a long time, that share has been increasing at a faster rate under the UCP.

And if part-time jobs are going up, that means that full-time accommodation and food services jobs have been going down. At a faster rate.

That must be what they were talking about when they introduced the Job Creation Tax Cut.

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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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