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Fort McMurray wildfire: 8.5M work hours lost in May and June

The wildfire burning near Fort McMurray, Alta. May 1, 2016.
The wildfire burning near Fort McMurray, Alta. May 1, 2016. Courtesy: Christopher McRae

The wildfire that ripped through Fort McMurray last spring caused a loss of 8.5 million work hours in the region in May and June, according to new numbers from Statistics Canada.

The data released Friday also showed 870,000 extra work hours were put in over the two-month period, resulting in a net loss of 7.6 million hours of work.

The work hours were lost by 42,000 employed people, or about 80 per cent of the employed population in the northern Alberta region.

READ MORE: $5.3B injected into Alberta economy for Fort McMurray wildfire rebuild: report

Meanwhile, the extra hours worked came from 9,600 workers, or about 18.5 per cent of the employed population.

In the rest of Alberta, 2.9 million hours of work were lost because of the Fort McMurray wildfire in May and June.

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Where were the hours lost?

While most industries in the Fort McMurray area reported a significant share of employees who missed work in May and June, the largest share of workers who lost hours because of the wildfire came from the transportation and warehousing industry (87.5 per cent).

The health care and social assistance industry came next, with 85.7 per cent of workers reporting they lost hours.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: Evacuee goes into labour after fleeing home

While the largest number of hours lost in any industry came from natural resources – 2.7 million hours – about 85 per cent of employees said they lost work hours. During the wildfire, however, about 26.2 per cent of employed people in the industry worked an additional 394,000 hours.

The smallest share of lost hours came from the public administration industry, at 65.2 per cent.

READ MORE: By the numbers: Fort McMurray wildfire, 6 months later

About 84 per cent of self-employed workers reported fewer hours, compared with 79.8 per cent of paid employees. Self-employed workers lost more hours (295.3) on average than employees (195.4).

Who lost the hours?

Over the two-month period, lost hours by men and woman were fairly comparable, with 80.7 per cent of men and 78.9 per cent of women losing work.

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A total of 4.8 million hours of work were lost by men, while women lost 2.8 million hours.

The average number of hours lost per person was 206.6 for men and 200 for women.

READ MORE: Feds make EI claims easier, faster for Fort McMurray fire evacuees

As a result of the wildfire, 20.8 per cent of men said they worked extra time, while 14.2 per cent of women said they took on extra work hours.

Employed people between the ages of 25 and 54 were most affected by the wildfires, with 81.9 per cent of workers between 25 and 39 losing an average of 199.1 hours in May and June. About 81 per cent of people aged 40 to 54 worked about 218 fewer hours over the two-month period.

Watch below: Video coverage of the Fort McMurray wildfire

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Nearly 90,000 people in the Fort McMurray area were forced to flee at the beginning of May when the wildfire dubbed “the beast” ripped through the community.

READ MORE: Cheese slices, statue of David among items Fort McMurray evacuees grabbed as they left town

People started returning home to Fort McMurray at the beginning of June.