Understanding Unemployment Numbers for August

Sep 05, 2014

Alberta – Unemployment increased from 4.7% to 4.9%.  This was caused by an actual decrease in the number of working people – by 13,000 to give you a sense.  A 0.2% change in either direction is not a huge concern, especially as this is a common pattern for July-August-Sept in Alberta.

B.C. – Unemployment increase from 5.9% to 6.1% which is where BC historically is and is a good story: the population increased, number of people in the labour force increased and the number of people working increased. The number of people in the workforce just increased slightly faster than the number of people with jobs.

Sask – Unemployment increased from 3.2 to 4.2%.  This is a huge swing in a given month but still gives Sask the lowest unemployment number in the country again.  What caused the swing? Everyone who was working is still working, there’s been no added unemployment. What did happen was there was a large influx of people into the workforce in August, creating more out of work people- no job loss, just more people who re-entered the workforce. This does not mean people moved to Sask (the population did not increase) only people within the province that decided to go back to work.

Canada – There was no change in the national unemployment rate, which means if the west saw increases the east somewhere must have shown gains. That winner would be Quebec who moved from 8.1% to 7.7% – a fairly large swing given the population of that province. That kept Canada at a 7% unemployment number, no movement.