Alberta and Quebec led the way in job growth last month, according to the latest unemployment report from Statistics Canada.
In Alberta, employment rose by 24,000 jobs in November, boosted by gains in full-time work.
At the same time, the jobless rate fell one percentage point to 6.3 per cent.
In the last year, employment in Alberta has risen by 59,000 jobs or 2.6 per cent.
Calgary’s jobless rate fell from 8.2 per cent to 7.9 per cent, while Edmonton’s unemployment figure dropped to 6.2 per cent from 6.3 per cent.
“Lots of new permanent, full time jobs that are seasonally adjusted; they’re not just here for the holiday season,” Alberta finance minister Joe Ceci, said. “So that’s really great.”
According to StatsCan, there were 2,300 jobs added in the agriculture sector, and over 4,000 added in manufacturing.
But the picture is still bleak for many job seekers in the province.
Although more than 10,000 jobs were added in the goods-producing sector, only around 900 of those were directly linked to natural resources.
While the wholesale and retail trade sector lost just over 4,000 positions.
“Those are those really good paying jobs we lost during the recession, they’ve been very slow in coming back,” ATB Financial chief economist Todd Hirsch, said. “The jobs that are coming back, including the ones in November, tend to be in sectors that pay a little bit less.”
Hirsch points to the services-producing sector, which saw a bump of over 13,000 positions; including 8,200 positions in healthcare and social assistance.
“They’re all still jobs, that is still all positive,” Hirsch said. “But what we’d really like to see at this point in the recovery is more jobs in the private sector, especially in the energy sector.”
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, in Montreal for the First Minister’s Meeting, said she was encouraged by the news the province was leading the way in job growth. But Notley did express her concern that Alberta has a long list of challenges before seeing a full recovery.
“That is job growth that is growing, and we’re very happy about,” Notley, said. “But its threatened if we don’t take charge of the situation of the discounted price of oil.”
Economists are keeping a close eye on the oil price differential.
ATB is predicting job statistics will remain stagnant throughout the Christmas season, but any recovery in the New Year is dependent on the markets response to Alberta’s 8.7 per cent cut in oil production, which is set to begin in January.
“I like to see good news wherever I can,” Hirsch said. “But we also have to be aware it’s still a very tough economy for a lot of families, a lot of job seekers out there.”
Nationally, over 94,000 jobs were created last month, knocking the unemployment rate down to 5.6 per cent, the lowest level since Statistics Canada started measuring the jobless rate more than 40 years ago.
The report also found that year-over-year average hourly wage growth continues to decline, dropping to just 1.46 per cent in November, now well below inflation.
ATB Financial chief economist Todd Hirsch said the new job numbers are surprising, considering they appear to contradict what Albertans have been hearing for months.
“Now I’m going to have a hard time later on today dissecting that and trying to figure out how it is that Alberta created 24,000 jobs last month when in fact the mood in the province is exactly the opposite.”
He said not many high paying energy sector jobs are coming back.
“What we’re seeing is more jobs in other sectors of the economy, which is good because it suggests more diversity is coming to Alberta’s economy,” he said. “That’s what we’d like to see. The problem is a lot of those other industries don’t pay as well as those high-paying energy jobs.”