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Almost there

Employment by industry compared to before the pandemic

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 11 September 2023 1 min read

Having just gotten over another case of COVID-19, I’m reminded of the lingering effects of the pandemic on the Alberta economy.

One of these effects* is lower employment in some industries today than before the pandemic.

Comparing February 2020 (the month before the pandemic was declared) to February 2021, seasonally-adjusted employment was down 4% overall with declines in 8 of the 16 major industry categories tracked by Statistics Canada. The four hardest hit sectors were information, culture and recreation (-36%), accommodation and food services (-30%), primary agriculture (-29%), and manufacturing (-14%).

Fast forward to August 2023, and overall employment was up by 8% compared to February 2022 and 4 of the 8 sectors had made up the employment ground they lost over the first year of the pandemic.

Primary agriculture employment in August remained 28% below its pre-pandemic level (though, as noted below, longer-term factors such as ongoing productivity gains are at play here).

Employment in the information, culture and recreation sector and the accommodation and food services sector improved, but it was still below where it was back in February 2020 while employment in the utilities sector has lost even more ground.

So while things are mostly back to “normal,” we are not quite there yet.

*While we can’t isolate the impact of the pandemic and related public health measures on the change in employment versus other variables, we can state with confidence that they were major factors in what has taken place since March 2020.

Answer to the previous trivia question: According to Statistics Canada, there were 11.3 million cattle on Canadian farms as of January 1, 2023.

Today’s trivia question: Which sector employed more people in Alberta in August 2023: construction or manufacturing?

Some sectors have still not recovered from employment losses during the pandemic

Some sectors have still not recovered from employment losses during the pandemic

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