Alberta’s unemployment rate little changed in September, remains among highest in Canada

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Alberta’s jobless rate little changed in September
Alberta’s jobless rate remained largely unchained in September compared to the month prior. Bindu Suri is looking into Statistics Canada’s September 2020 Labour Force Survey – Oct 9, 2020

Though Alberta’s unemployment rate dipped ever-so-slightly last month, it remains one of the highest in the country.

According to Statistics Canada’s September 2020 Labour Force Survey, the jobless rate in Alberta dropped one-tenth of a percentage point to 11.7 per cent in September from 11.8 per cent the month prior.

Only Newfoundland and Labrador had higher provincial unemployment numbers than Alberta, sitting at 14.8 per cent in September compared with 13.1 per cent in August.

The Labour Force Survey, released on Friday, reflects labour market conditions as of the week of Sept. 13-19, as Canadian families adopted new back-to-school routines due to health restrictions put in place amid COVID-19.

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In Alberta, employment rose by 38,000 (+1.8 per cent) in September, nearly all in full-time work. Educational services, information, culture and recreation, and public administration contributed the most to the increase, according to the survey.

Premier Jason Kenney said while it was good news to see new jobs being created, he warned Alberta is still “far from getting out of the woods.”

“We have the second-highest provincial unemployment in the country. Our two big cities — the second-highest unemployment in urban Canada — 11.7 per cent official unemployment,” he said.

“We believe that the real unemployment number is significantly worse because of the number of people who left the labour market, stopped looking for work. And that just underscores what I’ve been saying since the beginning of COVID, which is that the economic and personal — the human consequences– are much deeper for Alberta than other parts of Canada because of the collapse in energy prices that happened along with it.”

Kenney said Alberta is dealing with a “triple whammy” in COVID-19, the collapse of the global economy and the “biggest collapse of energy prices in history.”

“We layer all three of those things on top of five years of tough, challenging economic times, which is why we are acting with great ambition to do everything we humanly can to bring growth, job creation, back to this province, to create jobs now to replace some of those that are being lost.”

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In a Friday news release, Calgary Economic Development president and CEO Mary Moran said it was “encouraging to see such a big month-over-month gain,” but said there is still a long road ahead.

“The increase in employment in September was across a broader range of sectors than in previous months, which is particularly encouraging,” Moran added. “However, there’s still a lot of uncertainty around the economy and a second wave of COVID[-19] that we have to brace for a bumpy fall and winter.”

Calgary’s jobless rate sat at 12.6 per cent last month, down from 14.4 per cent in August, when it was the worst in Canada among the 34 metropolitan areas surveyed.

The most recent labour force survey shows Calgary no longer holds that dubious title. In September, it was Toronto that recorded the highest unemployment rate in all of Canada.

Edmonton, meanwhile, recorded an unemployment rate of 12.6 per cent in September — the same as Calgary. The month prior it sat at 13.6 per cent.

Calgary and Edmonton’s August jobless numbers were the second-highest in the country after Toronto.

Nationally, Canada’s unemployment rate dropped for the fourth consecutive month, declining 1.2 percentage points to 9 per cent.

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A look at Calgary and Edmonton’s unemployment rate history:

April 2020

↑ Calgary: 10.8 per cent
↑ Edmonton: 10.0 per cent

May 2020

↑ Calgary: 13.4 per cent
↑ Edmonton: 13.6 per cent

June 2020

↑ Calgary: 15.6 per cent
↑ Edmonton: 15.7 per cent

July 2020

↓ Calgary: 15.5 per cent
↓ Edmonton: 15.0 per cent

August 2020

↓ Calgary: 14.4 per cent
↓ Edmonton: 13.6 per cent

September 2020

↓ Calgary: 12.6 per cent
↓ Edmonton: 12.6 per cent

With files from Caley Ramsay, Global News.

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