indicatorThe Owl

Job trends by broad category

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

By Todd Hirsch, ATB Economics 25 June 2021 2 min read

In the first four parts of this series, we examined job trends in Alberta over the last ten years, including the energy and non-energy sectors. In this final segment, we group key job categories together to get a sense of the broader trends in employment.

The chart below illustrates the trend in three employment categories:

BLUE LINE: Public sector-oriented jobs (health care and social assistance; education services; public administration).

RED LINE: Jobs in Alberta’s traditional sectors (resource extraction; accommodation and food services; agriculture).

YELLOW LINE: Jobs in what are thought to be emerging industries in the province (professional, scientific and technical services; business, building and other support services; finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing).

An undeniable pattern emerges over the last ten years: jobs in healthcare, education and public administration—largely related to the public sector—are becoming more dominant. They grew from 21% to 26% of all jobs over the last ten years.

At the same time, jobs in more traditional sectors fell from 16% to 13% of total jobs, defying the misconception that everyone in Alberta is employed in oil and gas or farming.

The expansion of jobs in technology and other emerging industries is yet to materialize. They moved only from 16% to 17%. However, it is encouraging that almost all of the growth that has occurred was in the last year or so. This suggests these sectors are indeed starting to grow and may indeed continue to rise in the future.

Finally, while the share of employment in traditional sectors has dipped, the contributions these sectors make to the overall economy have not necessarily fallen. The improvements and efficiency gains made in the energy sector have allowed it to be more productive with fewer workers. The same is true of agriculture, where total output has expanded while employment has shrunk. They should not be considered “sunset” industries simply because they employ fewer people.

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.

Answer to the previous trivia question: Donalda, Alberta is home to a 42’ tall oil lamp that lights up at night.

Today’s trivia question: Which university has more students: The University of Alberta or the University of Calgary?

Jobs in healthcare, education and public administration are becoming more dominant

Jobs in healthcare, education and public administration are becoming more dominant


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