indicatorThe Owl

Not a pretty sight

A look back at Alberta’s labour market in 2020 (part 1 of 2)

By ATB Economics 11 January 2021 1 min read

On the one hand, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to look back at the labour market in 2020 given the anomalous nature of the pandemic. And besides, it would be nice to just forget what happened.

On the other hand, the pandemic and its effects on the labour market are far from over and understanding the past helps us chart the future.

Given this, today’s Owl is part one of a two part series on Alberta’s labour market in 2020.

The number of jobs in Alberta last year averaged 2,175,000. This was 168,000 (-7.2 per cent) below the average in 2019. The next largest drop in annual employment in recent memory was -1.6 per cent in 2016.

The number of jobs peaked in February at over 2.3 million. The lowest point was in April when there were under 2 million jobs in the province—a drop of 360,900 (-15.5 per cent) compared to the peak.

Average annual employment was down in all seven of the sub-regions defined by Statistics Canada, but the largest percentage decrease was in the (sorry for the mouthful) Banff-Jasper-Rocky Mountain House-Athabasca-Grande Prairie-Peace River region (-10.5 per cent) followed closely by the Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake region (-10.3 per cent).

Nationally, annual employment was down by almost a million jobs (-5.2 per cent) compared to 2019.

No province or territory was spared the negative effects of the pandemic on jobs with annual employment levels down in all ten provinces and three territories. Employment in Alberta, however, was down the most in percentage terms. The compounding effects of the oil price crash are the key reason for the greater job losses in Alberta.

Answer to the previous trivia question: Employees on maternity/parental leave are considered by the Labour Force Survey to be absent from work but still employed.

Today’s trivia question: In what year did the Labour Force Survey begin?

Average annual employment was down in all seven of the sub-regions defined by Statistics Canada

Average annual employment was down in all seven of the sub-regions defined by Statistics Canada


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