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Self-employment in Alberta during the pandemic

As of August, the number of employee jobs was down by 185,000 (9.3 per cent) compared to 12 months earlier whereas the number of self-employed Albertans was up by 8,100 (2.3 per cent).

By ATB Economics 11 September 2020 1 min read

Self-employed* Albertans have not experienced the same ups and downs as employees during the pandemic.

The number of seasonally adjusted employee positions in the province contracted by 18.1 per cent over March and April while self-employment declined by 1.9 per cent. Employee positions then bounced back by 12.1 per cent between April and August compared to an increase of 0.9 per cent in self-employment.

As of August, the number of employee jobs was down by 185,000 (9.3 per cent) compared to 12 months earlier whereas the number of self-employed Albertans was up by 8,100 (2.3 per cent).

It’s important to note that the relative lack of movement in the number of self-employed jobs doesn’t necessarily mean that all was well for these workers during the lockdown. It may be the case that some self-employed Albertans were still putting in hours (e.g., trying to drum up business), but not earning much, if any, income.

Both private sector and public** sector employment lost a lot of ground earlier this year. On a year-over-year basis, private sector jobs were down by 154,300 (10.1 per cent) in August compared to a drop of 30,800 (6.8 per cent) in the public sector. 

*For someone to be considered self-employed” by Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, their self-employed position must be the job at which they “usually work the most hours.” As such, side gigs in addition to a main job as an employee are not included.

**Public sector employees are those who work for a local, provincial or federal government, for a government service or agency, a Crown corporation, or a government-funded establishment such as a school, university or hospital.

The number of seasonally adjusted employee positions in the province contracted by 18.1 per cent over March and April while self-employment declined by 1.9 per cent

The number of seasonally adjusted employee positions in the province contracted by 18.1 per cent over March and April while self-employment declined by 1.9 per cent.


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