indicatorThe Twenty-Four

A tough year for job seekers

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

By ATB Economics 12 January 2021 1 min read

The unemployment data for 2020 are a stark reminder of the negative economic effects of the pandemic and oil price crash.

On average, there were 277,000 Albertans actively looking for a job but unable to find one last year. This was 103,800 higher than in 2019 and is equivalent to the entire population of Red Deer.

The number of unemployed Albertans peaked in June at 382,500 and was still sitting at 271,400 in December. And this doesn’t include discouraged workers who simply stopped looking.

Indeed, for only the third time since 1976, Alberta’s labour force (those working and actively looking for work) contracted last year. There were 64,200 fewer people in the labour force in 2020 compared to an increase of 21,400 in 2019.

Peaking at 15.5 per cent in May and June, the provincial unemployment rate averaged 11.3 per in 2020. The last time the annual unemployment rate was over 10 per cent was in the early 1980s. The annual unemployment rate in Alberta averaged 6.5 per cent between 1976 and 2020.

Among the provinces, only Newfoundland and Labrador had a higher average unemployment rate last year at 13.7 per cent. The national average came in at 9.5 per cent.

On the bright side, jobs will come back when the pandemic recedes.

Unfortunately, it will take time for employment growth to make up the ground lost during the pandemic while also keeping up with new entrants into the labour force. As a result, the unemployment rate is likely to stay unusually high throughout 2021 and into 2022.

Answer to the previous trivia question: The Labour Force Survey started as a quarterly survey in November 1945 and has been a monthly survey since November 1952.

Today’s trivia question: Between 1976 and 2020, in which two consecutive years did Alberta record its lowest annual unemployment rate of 3.5 per cent?

The provincial unemployment rate averaged 11.3 per in 2020

The provincial unemployment rate averaged 11.3 per in 2020

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