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How do western provinces stack up in job creation?

How do western provinces stack up in job creation?

Posted on: 11/6/2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

There’s nothing like good old-fashioned sibling rivalry—especially among Canada’s children of Confederation, the provinces. When it comes to the labour market and creation of new jobs, the three western provinces have all held the lead at various points. But at the moment, one of the three is in a class by itself.

The graph below shows the monthly percentage change in employment compared to a year earlier, with a 12-month moving average.

Back in 2012 and 2013, Saskatchewan was the job creation juggernaut. On average, annual job growth in that province topped three per cent—stronger than both Alberta, which was booming at the time, and British Columbia, which was seeing no job growth at all. But the oil price collapse was punishing to Saskatchewan’s labour market. And even though oil prices have modestly rebounded, recovery in Saskatchewan’s labour market has been elusive. There are still fewer jobs in Saskatchewan than there were a year ago.

Alberta’s job market followed Saskatchewan’s when oil prices started to tumble. During the depths of the recession, annual job losses approached 1.5 per cent. Yet unlike Saskatchewan, jobs have been returning to Alberta. Since hitting bottom in July of last year, annual job growth has risen back above zero and is now approaching one per cent.

Today, while Alberta is outpacing Saskatchewan in job creation, both have been left in the dust by British Columbia. After a slow start in a sluggish economy in 2013 and 2014, employment started to surge. Annual job growth reached three per cent early last year and it continues to climb.

Year over year employment change, graph

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