Edmonton loses 600 jobs, Calgary sees major gains as oil sector begins to awaken

A photo of Edmonton's skyline taken in September 2018.
A photo of Edmonton's skyline taken in September 2018. Eric Beck/ Global News

Between May and June, Edmonton lost 600 jobs, according to the latest labour force figures from Statistics Canada. And in Alberta, we’re also starting to see a shift. What’s happening in Calgary is seen as a foreshadow to what we can expect here.

City of Edmonton chief economist John Rose said the two cities always trend differently, because Edmonton is a public sector town, while Calgary relies on the oil patch.

“There’s a tendency for Edmonton to kind of cruise along, steady as she goes, whereas Calgary goes up and down and up and down on a much more cyclical basis depending on what’s going on in the energy sector.”

READ MORE: Canada saw slight job losses in June, new labour force survey shows

Edmonton lost 600 jobs, while Calgary gained 7,500, mainly in the energy sector.

Story continues below advertisement

With things picking up in Calgary, Rose said that will eventually echo in Edmonton.

“What we’re beginning to see is a slow steady recovery in things like manufacturing, professional services, logistics and transportation as activity begins to return to the energy sector,” he said.

“It’s been a really slow grind here in Edmonton and that’s part of the reason why the employment numbers have been kind of flat lately.”

READ MORE: Canadian unemployment falls to 5.4% in May — a 43-year low

The good trend in Edmonton is those who do have jobs are seeing improvements.

“We’ve seen a steady, very robust growth in full-time employment,” Rose said. “Employers are continuing to shift workers from part-time to full-time positions. That’s a good thing. But we did see a very modest loss in jobs, about 600 jobs.”

He also sees steady growth from here on in to the end of the year, however more people will enter the market looking for work, meaning those numbers will balance off.

“I anticipate as we go through the second half of 2019 you’ll see an improvement in employment in Edmonton, net new job gains going forward, but unfortunately that seven per cent unemployment rate is probably going to be stuck there because there’s a lot of people entering the labour force.”

Story continues below advertisement

According to the city, gains in trade, health care, and information, culture and recreation were more than offset by reduction in accommodation and food services, educational services and financial services.