The unemployment rate in Alberta dropped to 4.9 per cent last month, the lowest it’s been since 2015. It’s also the first time since 2015 Alberta has had the same unemployment rate as the country overall.
Alberta Central chief economist Charles St. Arnaud said this is a sign the province is getting back on track after the pandemic.
“The performance of that labour market has been very powerful,” St. Arnaud said.
St. Arnaud said one factor driving unemployment down is older workers appear to be leaving the job market, with Alberta seeing a marginal gain in employment in June.
The unemployment rate is highest in Red Deer at 5.7 per cent, Lethbridge-Medicine Hat at at 5.2 per cent. Calgary and Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake are at 5.0 per cent. Edmonton is on par with Alberta at 4 per cent, and Camrose-Drumheller are the lowest at 4.2 per cent.
“It speaks to how robust the recovery has been in the province, it speaks also to how supporting to the economy having oil prices reaching $110 per barrel is, so that is very positive,” St. Arnaud said.
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In a statement job minister Doug Schweitzer said 200,000 more jobs were added in Alberta since January 2021. He also noted inflation rates continue to be a concern.
“Alberta is seeing growth and new jobs in communities big and small across Alberta. Alberta’s Recovery Plan is working.”
The NDP economic development and innovation critic Deron Bilous worries the numbers aren’t as good as it seems. He points to the 7,100 Albertans leaving the workforce.
“The question is what are those 7,000 people doing and how many of them are leaving Alberta altogether,” Bilous said.
St. Arnaud said climbing interest rates will likely have an affect by the end of the year.
“So the chain of the reaction will lead to weaker consumption which will lead to weaker demand, weaker business activity and less need for those businesses to hire workers,” St. Arnaud said.
“By the end of the year will be the question of how much the rise of interest rates slow the economy, and how much that could negatively impact the labour market.”
St. Arnaud said Alberta could be OK as it rides on a positive tail wind from high oil prices.
“At least here in Alberta we are bit insulated or less affected because we have some very positive momentum on the economy.”