UCP says Alberta's 'swagger' is back amid 64 per cent November employment rate
Alberta's employment rate was the highest among all provinces last month, generating optimism among provincial officials.
According to Statistics Canada’s November 2021 Labour Force Survey, the province's employment sits at 64 per cent.
Jobs in Alberta increased by 15,000 (+0.7%) in November, with the "other services," wholesale and retail trade, and construction industries accounting for the increase.
Alberta's unemployment rate, meanwhile, sat at 7.6 per cent in November, unchanged from October. While other provinces did see decreases, Alberta's rate is still only slightly higher than the 7.5 per cent recorded in February 2020, before COVID-19 hit.
Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer said Friday that the numbers show Alberta's economic momentum is continuing to build.
“This year was the year that Alberta got our swagger back," Schweitzer said in a statement. "Next year will be the year we prove to the world that we are the absolute best place to invest, create jobs and raise your family.”
Schweitzer credited tech investment from Amazon Web Services as well as a new ground breaking investment from Northern Petrochemical for collectively creating more than 5,000 jobs in our province last month.
“We also announced nearly $850 million in investment from four agricultural projects that will create nearly 2,000 jobs," he said.
“We’ve continued to see signs of revival in our energy industry, with oil and gas production and exports at all-time highs.
“The third-quarter venture capital investment numbers show that our province has set another record in 2021, with three months still to go."
In a tweet, Premier Jason Kenney said November was a "remarkable month" for Alberta's economic recovery.
Though he acknowledged that it was encouraging to see jobs added last month, NDP Economic Development and Innovation Critic Deron Bilous said Friday that there were still several “concerning trends” of note in Alberta’s job market.
He noted that Alberta’s unchanged unemployment rate remains higher than the national average of 6.0 per cent and significantly higher than Ontario, Quebec and our neighbouring provinces.
“All Albertans are being hit with steeply rising costs and a growing unaffordability crisis. The UCP is making this situation worse by forcing Alberta to pay more income tax, more property tax, more school fees, more tuition, more interest on student debt, more camping fees, more for utilities and more for car insurance,” Bilous said in a statement.
RBC senior economist Robert Hogue says one thing that could slow down Alberta's economic rebound is a potential labour shortage as new positions are created.
Hogue says that could put Alberta workers in an advantageous position when it comes to leveraging higher salaries.
"It probably sets a stage for stronger wage increases going forward,” he said.
"We're not seeing those quite yet overall, but those are the conditions that we know typically will generate stronger wage increases. So for households in Alberta, this is obviously good, good news."
For organizations and businesses across the province, a labour shortage could become a major hurdle.
Hogue says what we’re seeing right now in the job market is somewhat reminiscent of what the province saw in the early 2010s.
"They were a huge issue at that time. And so, businesses will have to find ways to attract and retain talent."
In Edmonton, the city's unemployment rate dropped to 7.6 per cent in November from 8.0 in October.
Calgary's unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point, sitting at 8.1 per cent in November compared to 8.0 per cent the month prior.
"Overall, November didn’t see any significant gains or losses on the unemployment front in Calgary," said Dexter Lam, senior manager of talent at Calgary Economic in a Friday news release.
"We had small increases in both employment and labour force participation, but due to the labour force being slightly higher the amount of people employed, we experienced a small increase in unemployment.”
Lam noted that the numbers are from a period before the emergence of the Omicron variant as well as the first of the B.C. landslides.
"This means any impacts these events may have on our labour force and across sectors remain to be seen,” Lam said.
"We know we may still see some challenges on our road to recovery, but we remain cautiously optimistic about our city’s economic future."
Calgary and Windsor, Ont. were tied with Canada's third-highest jobless rate in the 34 metropolitan areas surveyed; only Abbotsford-Mission, B.C. and Peterborough, Ont. recorded higher numbers, sitting at 8.2 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively.
Nationally, the unemployment rate fell to 6.0 per cent last month compared with 6.7 per cent in October.