Unemployment rate falls but for wrong reason

By ATB Economics 13 October 2019 1 min read

The latest job numbers from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey show that the monthly unemployment rate in Alberta improved in September, falling by 0.6 percentage points to 6.6 per cent.

The problem is that the improvement is due to workers leaving the labour force rather than strong job creation. An estimated 11, 600 workers decided to stop working or quit looking for work in September compared to the creation of just 4,900 new jobs. While people leave the labour force for a range of reasons, it is a safe bet that the number of discouraged job seekers—those who stop looking because they cannot find work—is up in the province.

The new jobs that were created were almost evenly split between full-time (49 per cent) and part-time (51 per cent).

The unemployment rate in the Calgary Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) was 7.1 per cent in September, down 0.2 percentage points from August. The unemployment rate in the Edmonton CMA was 7.3, down 0.1 points. The participation rate was down in both cities and points to a rise in discouraged workers rather than overall improvement in the labour market.

Nationally, the number of jobs increased by 54,000 and the unemployment rate fell by 0.2 points to 5.5 per cent.

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