February Unemployment Rates

Mar 17, 2014

February’s job report puts to rest any lingering notions that Alberta’s labour market is shifting into lower gear. If anything, it may sound the alarm that the economy is galloping ahead too quickly.
Last month, Alberta saw an increase of 18,800 new jobs (adjusted for seasonality)—the highest pace of monthly job creation in nearly three years, and well above the average gain of about 6,000 since the end of the 2009 recession. The unemployment rate also dropped three-tenths of a percentage point to 4.3%.

The extraordinary performance in February brings the 12-month increase up 3.8% to 82,300. Alberta now accounts for 87% of all the jobs created in the entire country since February of last year.

Most of the new jobs in Alberta were in construction (+23,300), retail and wholesale trade (+7,300), and oil and gas (+6,800). These gains were partially offset by a drop in professional, scientific and technical occupations (-15,200), and health care and social assistance (-10,600).

Three months ago, Alberta saw a one-month drop of nearly 10,000 jobs. That led to some concern about an economic slowdown. The longer term trend points to anything but. With a falling unemployment rate and employment rising more quickly than the pool of available workers, the true worry could be that more Alberta employers will feel the pinch of labour shortages.

Alberta has the second lowest unemployment rate in the country behind Saskatchewan. The national unemployment rate remained at 7.0%.