Canada’s unemployment rate is at its lowest rate in over 40 years, and Alberta was one of the provinces leading the growth in employment last month.
READ MORE: Canada’s unemployment rate falls to lowest rate in over 40 years: StatCan
Alberta’s unemployment rate fell from 8.5 per cent at the end of 2016 to 6.9 per cent at the end of 2017.
Last month in the province, employment increased by 26,000 jobs, mostly in full-time work. Between November and December, the unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points to 6.9 per cent. Statistics Canada said more people found work in a number of industries, led by accommodation and food services, and by natural resources.
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It’s good news for Albertans hurt by a struggling economy the past few years. Following a slide in employment from the fall of 2015 to the summer of 2016, the labour market in Alberta added workers in 2017, with a growth rate of 2.4 per cent — or 55,000 jobs — which Statistics Canada said was the best performance since 2014.
ATB Financial chief economist Todd Hirsch said 2017 was the rebound year for employment in Alberta and what’s important is the quality of jobs in this latest report.
“Not only were there a lot of jobs, but the quality of jobs being created indicates that it is quite good and spread across a number of sectors. So, those are the kind of job reports we want to see.”
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The employment gains were attributable to manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, natural resources, finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing, and transportation and warehousing.
WATCH: Alberta’s set to close out 2017 with the fastest growing economy in Canada. But many in the province are still having trouble finding work. Tom Vernon takes a look at what some are expecting in 2018.
More people have found work in Alberta’s two biggest cities in recent months as well.
Edmonton’s unemployment rate fell from 9.1 per cent in August 2017, to 6.6 per cent in December.
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In Calgary, the jobless rate dropped from 8.7 per cent in August to 7.2 per cent last month.
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As for the largest employment gains in December, Alberta was only outpaced by Quebec. Employment there was up 27,000 jobs last month and fewer people were looking for work, pushing that province’s unemployment rate down half a percentage point to 4.9 per cent.
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Brian DePratto, senior economist at TD Bank, told Danielle Smith on 770 CHQR that Alberta still has a long way to go in its recovery, but said Friday’s report shows real progress.
“We saw pretty broad-based strength across Alberta — in construction, manufacturing, services, trade, retail, education. A pretty good report overall.”
DePratto said the job report could be a factor in the next interest rate decision later this month.
“It’s a very strong report. It’s definitely going to have an influence. We think this is strong enough to get them (the Bank of Canada) to move. We think we could see an interest rate hike.”