Alberta is seeing continued job growth, following another 20,000 jobs gained in August. The number of unemployed but actively looking for work dropped to 193,400 from 208,400 last month.
Building on the economic growth seen throughout summer 2021, Alberta’s unemployment rate fell 0.6 percentage points from July, down to 7.9 percent — the lowest in the province since the onset of the pandemic of 7.5 percent in February 2020. Compared to August 2020, the unemployment rate dropped 4.3 percentage points.
StatsCan numbers released Friday showed the province gained 19,400 jobs compared to July, resulting in a 0.9 percent growth rate. Most new employment was full-time work with 16,300 jobs. Part-time work rose by 3,100 new positions.
"Building on July’s encouraging job numbers, Alberta saw consecutive months of job growth across many sectors of the economy," said Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer in a statement.
Gains were led by transportation and warehousing, followed by information, culture and recreation, and accommodation and food services, according to the Labour Force Survey.
"Our unemployment rate is now the lowest it has been in 18 months. With new investments in tech, film, energy, agriculture and more, Alberta’s Recovery Plan is creating jobs and diversifying the economy while building for the future," he said.
"Just this month, we saw announcements from Imperial Oil of a new hydrogen refinery and a joint hydrogen facility from Mitsubishi and Shell in our province, solidifying our lead as a global leader in hydrogen development."
University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe said loosened public health measures facilitated job growth in August in the province, as reported by the Calgary Herald.
"I try not to get surprised by individual things in a single report and instead look to trends," he said. "The broad trend here is clear that we have seen steadily improving labour market conditions over the past few months, getting close to pre-COVID levels for a lot of things like the unemployment rate, or even the under-utilization rate."
Tombe said there is room for continued growth in industries that were hard hit by the pandemic, including Alberta’s natural resource sector, which could lead to further unemployment reductions in the coming months.
Schweitzer added: "August’s job numbers confirm projections that Alberta will lead Canada in economic growth this year and next." He pointed out that the Conference Board of Canada reaffirmed their projection that Alberta will lead Canada in growth this year and next year.
Alberta was one of four provinces to experience job growth in August, as did Ontario, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. All other provinces recorded little or no change.
Though Alberta’s unemployment rate remains about the national average, job numbers are trending in the right direction.
The country’s overall unemployment rate dropped by 0.4 percentage points to 7.1 percent. There were 90,200 new jobs created in Canada between July and August, including 68,500 full-time positions.
Like Alberta, the national unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since February 2020. Employment in August rose among young Canadians as well as Indigenous people and recent immigrants, particularly Filipino-Canadians. The accommodation and food services industries continued to see growth nationwide.
However, Tombe cautioned that the fourth wave of COVID-19 could create some hardships in the market and that making progress on the provincial vaccination campaign would help curb that threat.
"Making progress on that front is central for continuing economic recovery that we’ve seen over the summer months," he said.
For local regions, Calgary’s unemployment rate increased from 9.6 percent in July to 10.1 percent in August — among the highest in the country.
"We know there is still more work to do, and the government will remain focused on economic recovery and job creation," said Schweitzer. "With our capital plan creating tens of thousands of jobs and oil sands production rising more than eight percent in the first half of the year, exceeding 2019 levels and non-energy investment returning to 2019 levels this year, Alberta has a bright future."