Alberta’s unemployment rate drops to 8.7% in May

A sign indicates a restaurant is open during the COVID-19 pandemic but only for takeout or online orders. Getty Images

Alberta’s unemployment rate dipped slightly last month as businesses continued to struggle through the province’s third wave of COVID-19.

According to Statistics Canada’s May 2021 Labour Force Survey, Alberta recorded a jobless rate of 8.7 per cent in May, down three-tenths of a percentage point from the month prior (9.0 per cent).

The Labour Force Survey, released on Friday, reflects labour market conditions the week of May 9 to 15, the same time Alberta entered a province-wide ban on personal wellness services and in-person dining.

The changes went into place on May 10. Also impacted were retail stores, which saw their maximum capacity drop to 10 per cent.

It was also the first full week of online learning for all students in kindergarten to Grade 12. The move to virtual classes took place May 7.

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Read more: Canadian economy lost 68,000 jobs in May as COVID-19 lockdowns continued

Nationally, Canada’s unemployment rate remained virtually unchanged in May 2021, up a single tenth of a percentage point to 8.2 per cent from 8.1 per cent the month prior.

Statistics Canada says national employment in natural resources rose by 8,600 — “almost entirely because of gains in Alberta.”

“Following increases throughout most of the fall and winter, global oil prices have remained near pre-pandemic levels in recent months,” the report stated.

Last year, Alberta had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country as it grappled with the impacts of COVID-19; it recorded a 15.5 per cent jobless rate in May 2020.

Edmonton and Calgary unemployment

Calgary recorded an unemployment rate of 8.7 per cent in May, down 0.6 percentage points from the month prior when it sat at 9.3 per cent.

Edmonton’s unemployment rate also fell slightly, dipping to 10.2 per cent in April from 10.5 per cent in May.

Though the jobless rate in Alberta’s capital continued its downward trend, it recorded one of the highest unemployment rates of the 34 metropolitan areas surveyed in May, with only Ontario’s St. Catharines-Niagara area (10.8 per cent) and Windsor (10.6 per cent) sitting higher.

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Both Calgary and Edmonton have seen large job gains from a year prior, when — at the height of COVID-19 closures and restrictions — the cities had unemployment rates of 13.4 per cent and 13.6 per cent respectively.

A look at Calgary and Edmonton’s 2021 unemployment rates

January 2021

↑ Calgary: 10.6 per cent
↑ Edmonton: 11.9 per cent

February 2021

– Calgary: 10.6 per cent
↓ Edmonton: 11.6 per cent

March 2021

↓ Calgary: 10.0 per cent
↓  Edmonton: 11.2 per cent

April 2021

↓ Calgary: 9.3
↓ Edmonton: 10.5


↓ Calgary: 8.7
↓ Edmonton: 10.2

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