indicatorThe Owl

Employment in Alberta over the last 10 years

Part 1 of a 5-part series on trends in Alberta’s job market

By Todd Hirsch, ATB Economics 21 June 2021 1 min read

For most Albertans, the notion of “the economy” is really about one thing: employment. In this 5-part series of The Owl, we will explore how the province’s job market has evolved over the last decade.

The chart below shows the change in total employment, capturing both the oil-price-induced downturn of 2015-16 and the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. These two recessions stand in stark contrast.

In the first recession, between January 2015 and June 2016, the labour market shed 86,000 jobs, a drop of 3.8% over a period of 17 months. Total employment did not return to pre-downturn levels until March of 2018. While quite severe, the drop and recovery in total employment followed a typical pattern for Alberta during an oil-price-induced recession.

What happened in early 2020, however, was different. With the onset of the pandemic, total employment fell by an astounding 310,000 jobs (-13.7%) between February and May 2020. And while it recovered approximately three-quarters of its losses in the following few months, total employment is still more than 2% below its pre-pandemic levels.

In Part 2 in the series, we will look at employment patterns in the energy sector over the last decade.

This series on Alberta’s labour market is drawn from “The State of Alberta’s Economy and the Path Forward” by ATB Financial Chief Economist Todd Hirsch and published in May 2021 by the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary. Please note that some of the data in the original paper have been updated.

Answer to the previous trivia question: Between the third quarter of 1961 and the first quarter of 2021, Alberta gained 628,178 residents from interprovincial migration.

Today’s trivia question: The summer solstice occurs in June in the Northern Hemisphere. In what month does it occur in the Southern Hemisphere?

Between January 2015 and June 2016, the labour market shed 86,000 jobs

The labour market shed 86,000 jobs between January 2015 and June 2016


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