indicatorThe Owl

Not much to see here

Changes in self-employment since COVID

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 13 June 2023 1 min read

Self-employment* is an important part of the economy, representing about 15% of total employment in Alberta last year.

Let’s take a look at the trajectory of self-employment in Alberta over the last few years.

Overall, the annual** proportion of workers who are self-employed has been relatively stable.

The year before the pandemic in 2019, there were about 355,000 self-employed Albertans accounting for roughly 15.4% of total employment in the province.

While the average number of self-employed Albertans stayed essentially the same in 2020, its share of total employment rose to 16.6% as the number of employee positions fell in the face of public health restrictions.

By 2022, there were 1.2% fewer self-employed Albertans (351,000) representing 14.8% of total employment. So, a little lower, but not much different than before COVID.

The differences are a bit more stark at the national level with self-employment down by 6.3% in 2022 compared to 2019 and its share of total employment in Canada going from 14.8% to 13.5%.

What can we take away from these statistics?

First, self-employment’s share of total employment in Alberta increased during the height of the pandemic, but this was more about the drop in employee positions than a sea change in the level of self-employment.

Second, although the pre- and post-pandemic numbers are not that different, there has been a long-term downward trend in the ratio of self-employed workers to employee positions. Self-employment’s share of total employment in Alberta averaged 19.1% in the 1990s, 17.5% from 2000 to 2009 and 16.0% from 2010 to 2022.

Nationally, self-employment’s share was 15.8% in the 1990s, 15.5% in the 2000s and 14.9% from 2010 to 2022.

*Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey includes self-employed workers who report that their main job involves working for themselves rather than an employer.

**There is a lot of month-to-month noise in the estimates of self-employment and this continued during the pandemic.

Answer to the previous trivia question: The World Trade Organization commenced operations on January 1, 1995.

Today’s trivia question: Between 1976 and 2022, self-employment’s average annual share of total employment in Alberta edged up over 20% three times. In what year did it peak?

Self-employment levels in Alberta were higher in the 1990s

Self-employment levels in Alberta were higher in the 1990s

Economics News

Subscribe and get a quick daily snapshot of what’s happening in Alberta’s economy

Need help?

Our Client Care team will be happy to assist.

Chat now
ATB Virtual Assistant
The ATB Virtual Assistant doesn't support landscape mode. Please tilt your device vertically to portrait mode.