Edmonton job gains mirror national numbers but rest of Alberta sees job losses: Statistics Canada

Canada Service centre documents that display Employment Insurance options are pictured in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2015.
Canada Service centre documents that display Employment Insurance options are pictured in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2015. Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press

Job numbers released on Friday reflect positively on Edmonton — and the country as a whole — but for the rest of Alberta it’s another story altogether.

Statistics Canada said the Canada’s job market bounced back last month with a gain of 63,000 positions, edging the unemployment rate down to 5.9 per cent. The bulk of those gains were in Ontario and British Columbia.

City of Edmonton economist John Rose said that in Metro Edmonton there were gains of 3,000 jobs. That moved Edmonton’s unemployment rate down to 6.3 per cent from 6.4.

READ MORE: Edmonton unemployment rate at 6.9% but ‘it came down for the wrong reason’: economist

“By historical standards, that’s quite high,” he told Global News. “We’re converging on the national unemployment rate of 5.9 per cent and we’re well below the provincial unemployment rate of seven [per cent].”
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When looking at numbers for Alberta, excluding Edmonton, 6,000 jobs were lost. The latest figures show there was a pullback in full-time employment with some gains in part-time work. When factoring in the job gains in Edmonton, there was a net loss of 3,000 jobs in Alberta.

“Unfortunately, our good friends in Calgary are at 8.2 per cent,” Rose said, attributing the difference between the two cities to Edmonton having a more diverse economy than the rest of Alberta.

READ MORE: Calgary still plagued by job losses and the numbers may be higher than reported

According to Rose, what really drove Edmonton’s numbers was construction.

“I had anticipated that we would see a slowdown as a number of major projects wrapped up in the region, but that hasn’t been the case.”

The encouraging numbers should prompt more jobseekers to make their way to Edmonton, Rose predicted.

“That’s the big takeaway. People are going to start to notice that employment conditions in Edmonton are significantly better than they are in many other regions of Alberta, and in many other regions of the country.

“We’re going to see an uptick in intraprovincial migration and interprovincial migration.”

On a year-over-year basis, Canada gained 222,000 jobs since September 2017. The September job gains indicate volatility continues in the jobs market after August saw a decline of more than 51,000 positions, when the unemployment rate was at six per cent.

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READ MORE: The factors influencing current job numbers in Alberta

Statistics Canada’s labour force survey found that all of the job gains were made by workers in the 25 to 54 age range with virtually no change in youth employment.

Rose is due to release an updated fiscal forecast for Edmonton in the next couple of weeks. He has GDP hovering at around three per cent for the rest of this year and doesn’t expect it to change much.

However, there will be changes to employment and inflation numbers. Consumers will face higher prices and are going to “pull back” on spending, Rose said.

“It’s not going to be a disaster, but I have to admit, I lowballed inflation.”

Rose predicts GDP for 2019 will be a little lower, “probably around two-and-a-half per cent.”

–With files from The Canadian Press