indicatorThe Owl

Jobs are where the rubber hits the economic road

The unemployment rate in Alberta has been unusually high since the provincial recession of 2015-16

By ATB Economics 25 November 2020 1 min read

When it comes to economic statistics, the number one thing people want to know about is not capacity utilization rates, GDP growth, or even interest rates. It’s jobs. This is where economic statistics get personal for most of us. Will I have a job? Will my kids get good jobs? Will my friends and neighbours stay employed?

The pandemic pushed the national jobless rate to its highest point in decades in May. Even though the rate has fallen, it remains elevated, and Canadians are anxious about when and if all of the jobs will come back.

This is especially true in Alberta where the unemployment rate has been unusually high since the provincial recession of 2015-16. Alberta’s unemployment rate averaged just over 5 per cent between 2010 and 2014. It improved after the recession, but was still high by Alberta standards, averaging around 7 per cent before COVID hit.

In fact, Alberta has been on a different track than the country as a whole when it comes to unemployment for the last five years. Alberta’s economy has been hamstrung by oil price crashes and insufficient pipeline capacity. As a result, Alberta’s unemployment rate has been above Canada’s every month since January 2016.

If Ontario is known for producing lots of auto parts, Alberta is known for producing lots of jobs. Or at least it was. This is concerning to us in Alberta, but it’s also bad for the thousands of Canadians and immigrants who would normally find work here.

There is still a tremendous amount of economic opportunity in Alberta, and job creation will bounce back—to some degree. In the meantime, Albertans and Canadians alike will be watching the unemployment rate, hoping that it comes down sooner rather than later.

Alberta has been on a different track than the country as a whole when it comes to unemployment for the last five years

Alberta has been on a different track than the country as a whole when it comes to unemployment for the last five years


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