indicatorThe Owl

Employment outside the energy sector

Part 3 of a 5-part series on trends in Alberta’s job market

By Todd Hirsch, ATB Economics 23 June 2021 1 min read

In Part 2 of the series, we saw how energy sector* jobs in Alberta slid during the oil price downturn of 2014-16, and again in 2018-19 because of greater automation. The COVID-19 pandemic, on the other hand, had a smaller, shorter impact on energy jobs in the province.

In this edition of The Owl, we look at total employment excluding the energy sector. Here the difference between the 2015-16 recession and the 2020 recession stands in stark contrast. While employment excluding the energy sector did drop in the 2015-16 recession by 0.7%, it recovered within two years—something employment in oil and gas never came close to achieving.

On the other hand, employment excluding the energy sector plunged by a much greater amount in the 2020 pandemic-induced global recession. Within a span of four short months—between February and May of 2020—the province shed more than 300,000 non-energy jobs, a drop of 14.2%. This was a pattern repeated across the country and around the world as business closures and other restrictions on the movement of people forced companies to lay off workers.

In Part 4 of the series, we look at the 10-year job trends in individual sectors.

*The “energy sector” in Alberta includes jobs in forestry and mining, but most of the jobs are in oil and gas extraction.

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: “Petroleum” means rock oil in Medieval Latin.

Today’s trivia question: What is the largest lake located entirely in Alberta?

While employment excluding the energy sector did drop in the 2015-16 recession by 0.7%, it recovered within two years

While employment excluding the energy sector did drop in the 2015-16 recession by 0.7%, it recovered within two years


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