indicatorThe Owl

Are we there yet? Job recovery in Alberta

We are still about 50,000 jobs short of where we were before the pandemic

By Rob Roach, ATB Financial 12 July 2021 1 min read

Friday’s Owl reported that job growth in Alberta in June was flat for the second month in a row; the provincial unemployment rate increased from 8.7% to 9.3%; and we are still about 50,000 jobs short of where we were before the pandemic.

What is going on behind these numbers?

Timing - The statistics reflect the situation in mid-June, after Alberta entered Stage 1 and Stage 2 of its Open for Summer plan, but before Stage 3 began on July 1. As a result, we did see some jobs come back in sectors such as accommodation and food services as the economy partially reopened, but we will have to wait until we get July's numbers (or even deeper into the year) to see if the lifting of (most) public health restrictions on Canada Day will enable the high-contact service sectors to catch-up to where they were before COVID.

More job-seekers - Job growth in June was flat (technically, the Labour Force Survey showed a decrease of 200 positions), but the unemployment rate increased because the number of Albertans looking for work went up. More job seekers + flat job growth = a higher unemployment rate.

The pandemic is not over - Thankfully, things are getting back to normal, but there are still travel restrictions, supply chain disruptions, labour shortages (e.g., in agriculture) and other pandemic-related headwinds working against job growth that will be with us for a while yet.

Pipeline capacity - Alberta went into the pandemic on its back foot and the same problem that was restraining our job growth is still with us: investment in the long-term expansion of our oil production is hamstrung by a lack of future pipeline capacity. Without this stimulus, overall job growth in Alberta is, and will continue to be, slower than it was in the past until other stimuli are found.

Answer to the previous trivia question: The first documented successful open-heart surgery was performed by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams on July 9, 1893.

Today’s trivia question: What percentage of Alberta workers are self-employed?

The number of accommodation and food services jobs in Alberta was still down by 25,600 in June 2021 compared to February 2020 before the pandemic was declared

The number of accommodation and food services jobs in Alberta was still down by 25,600 in June 2021 compared to February 2020 before the pandemic was declared


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