Alberta Sheds 15,000 Jobs In October

Alberta sheds 15,000 jobs in October

Sunday, November 8, 2009
Last Updated: 7th November 2009, 4:59am

Alberta is scraping the bottom of the employment barrel, posting the some of the worst job numbers of all provinces in nationwide stats released yesterday.

The province lost 15,000 jobs last month, pushing the unemployment rate up 0.4 percentage points to 7.5%, according to Statistics Canada.

Since October 2008, Alberta's employment rate has fallen by 3.3%, the steepest rate of decline among all the provinces, says the federal agency. Over the year, 68,000 jobs were lost.

Back in February. Finance Minister Iris Evans predicted only 15,000 jobs lost for the entire year.

“They really don't know what's going on,” said NDP labour critic Rachel Notley.

It seems the dive has dragged down oil and gas workers and young people in particular. Natural resource sectors, including mining, forestry and oil and gas, shed 1,500 jobs last month alone, and 20,000 since October 2008.

Some service sectors, including trade, transportation and education, posted month-to-month job gains in the thousands.

The natural-gas reliant northwest region of the province, including Grande Prairie, is facing a 9.1% unemployment rate, the highest of all provincial regions marked in detailed provincial numbers released by Alberta Employment and Immigration.

Edmonton is second-worst off, with 7.8% unemployment.

Males 15 to 24 are suffering by far the worst unemployment of all in the province — 15.5%. That's more than double the rate for adults over 25.

That may be an echo of boom times, said Liberal labour critic Hugh MacDonald, when thousands of youth skipped schooling to take lucrative jobs in natural resource industries. Those jobs are now drying up.

“We have to encourage them to go back to school and get retraining, and hopefully a permanent job,” he said. The numbers show the recession “certainly isn't over,” he said.

Natural gas prices are largely to blame for the province's spiralling job performance.

“Most governments in the developed world have invested in pretty significant stimulus programs. Here in Alberta, we haven't done that,” Notley said. More public-sector jobs would keep Albertans working through the downturn, she said.

Canada's unemployment rate sits at 8.6%.