Following an increase in June, employment in Alberta declined by 14,000 jobs in July and a large bulk of them were 5,400 part time jobs in the metro Edmonton region, according to numbers released Friday by Statistics Canada.
“The numbers for July were disappointing, no question,” said City of Edmonton chief economist John Rose.
“It’s very difficult to see anything very positive in there except for the fact that full time employment has held up very well. Almost all of the job losses, the 5,400 positions that were lost between June and July, almost all of those were part-time positions.”
Employment decreased notably in accommodation and food services as well as in natural resources, Rose said.
“At the provincial level it was energy, logistics, transportation and warehousing, as well as accommodation and food services.
“We did see some gains at the provincial level in professional services and construction, but those numbers were just swamped by the job losses elsewhere in the economy.
In Edmonton, Rose said we saw gains in construction, wholesale and retail trade and information, culture and recreation. However, Rose said the city took a bit hit in accommodation and food and the energy sector was also down.
“Most disturbingly, the educational services was also down which is not a great sign because health care, education and public administration have been three key contributors to the recovery of employment in the Edmonton region since 2016, so I was a little unnerved by that education number.”
Rose noted that the Janice McKinnon report from the blue ribbon panel is due to be delivered to the Jason Kenney government next week. It will be released publicly some time after Labour Day. In anticipation of it, several public sector unions have braced themselves for job cuts.
The unemployment rate rose by 0.4 percentage points provincially to seven per cent. For Edmonton, it jumped 0.5 percentage points to 7.5 per cent. Calgary went from seven per cent in June to 6.9 per cent in July.
“We’re going to be kind of stuck between seven and 7.5 per cent for a while,” Rose said. “simply because there still continues to be people coming into the working age population and into the labour force.
“There’s a lot of people sitting on the sidelines out there and as soon as we see an improvement in the labour market they’re going to move in and that’s going to tend to keep the unemployment rate up.”
Compared with July 2018, employment in the province was little changed. Nationally, the jobless rate rose from 5.5 per cent in June to 5.7 per cent last month as the economy lost 24,200 jobs. The results were worse than expected, as economists had predicted a gain of 12,500 jobs in July.
– With files from the Canadian Press