Alberta Leads In Lost Jobs

Alberta leads in lost jobs

By Bill Mah
March 13, 2010 8:49 AM

EDMONTON—-Alberta was the only province that lost a significant number of jobs in February, but Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk says many Canadians still view it as “the land of opportunity.”

Alberta lost 14,800 jobs in February, pushing its unemployment rate to 6.9 per cent, up 0.3 percentage points from the previous month, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

“Alberta was the only province with a notable employment loss in February,” said the federal agency.

But Alberta's rate was still third-lowest in the country. Only Saskatchewan's 4.3 per cent and Manitoba's 5.4 per cent were lower.

Alberta's rate was also well below the national rate of 8.2 per cent.

Alberta is a victim of its own success, Lukaszuk said.

“Because we are the third-lowest and we have this reputation of the land of opportunity from coast to coast, we continue to attract other Canadians from other provinces coming to Alberta, still searching for jobs,” Lukaszuk said.

“It affects our numbers.”

Statistics show Alberta's labour force grew by 2,900 in February compared with February 2009, but shrank by 8,400 people compared with a month earlier.

Lukaszuk welcomes an influx of jobseekers.

“We still have a steady flow of migrants coming into Alberta, which is good because the economy will improve. (Thursday's) announcement is slated to create approximately 8,000 new jobs just in 2011 and 2012, so we will need those people,” Lukaszuk said, referring to the provincial government cutting royalty rates for conventional oil and gas.

Nationally, the jobless rate slipped 0.1 percentage points to 8.2 per cent in February. Employment rose by 21,000 jobs, with large gains in full-time work, the federal agency said.

Of Alberta's lost jobs, 14,300 were full-time. This also bucked the national trend, which saw more than 60,000 full-time jobs created, offsetting the loss of 39,000 part-time jobs.

Most of jobs lost in Alberta were in educational services, wholesale and retail trade and agriculture.

But the province gained jobs in manufacturing, forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas.

Lukaszuk said Alberta is still slowly recovering from recession, and the labour market will fluctuate.

“Obviously I don't like seeing the unemployment rate going up, but the fact of recovery is it's not a straight line up. It's up and down, up and down, but always ratcheting up.”

Todd Hirsch, a senior economist with Edmonton-based ATB Financial, agreed, calling the jobs market a roller-coaster.

“The downturn in the jobs market in February does not suggest a trend toward deteriorating economic conditions,” Hirsch said, in his weekly economic bulletin.

“Monthly ups-and-downs are typical, particularly in a post-recession period, such as this, when economic growth is returning slowly.

“With improvements in foreign trade, rising oil prices, and better conditions in the rest of Canada and the U.S., Alberta's economy will continue to gain traction. Recently announced changes to the royalty regime could also give an added boost to employment in the energy sector.”