Unemployment Numbers March Need Perspective

Apr 05, 2013

The Statistics Canada numbers released April 5th, have the media all up in frenzy mode with headlines like “Alberta lost 11,000 jobs in March” or “Canada loses 54,500 jobs in March; jobless rate climbs”…but with a little added information the anxiety can be reduced.

Canada moved from 7 to 7.2% unemployment.  Canada shed 54,000 jobs.  Both these numbers are relatively unrelated and do not effect one another – 54,000 jobs does not equal a 0.2% swing in unemployment.

-Canada was at 7.2% unemployment back in November and higher before that so 7.2% is not an extreme shift.

-54,000 jobs do represent a lot of jobs and lives, however, last month Canada was up 50,000 jobs, so we may be seeing a correction to an unusually high gain in February.


Alberta moved from 4.5 to 4.8% unemployment which = 11,000 lost jobs; 10,000 part-time sector jobs were lost and full time jobs numbers actually went up by 3,000.

-Despite losing 11,000 total jobs, only 8,000 moved into unemployment status resulting in a lower unemployment swing of only 0.3%.

-Usually Alberta has monthly swings between 0 and 5000 jobs making 11,000 high in a single month but in January Alberta had high gains @ 10,000 jobs in a single month – very high positive swing with a corrective negative swing.

British Columbia:

BC saw the worst of the numbers in western Canada, unemployment moving from 6.3% to 7% or 15,000 lost jobs – 14,800 full time jobs were lost in March.

Despite losing 14,800 total jobs; 18,400 moved into unemployment status driving a higher unemployment swing.

BUT – BC has a history of employment swings – a 5% to 8% swing between months is not unusual in BC…so take this with a grain.  Below illustrates the unemployment swings in BC using March 2012 to July 2012:

March   12’          7%

April                       6.2%

May                       7.4%

June                      6.6%

July                        7%

Sask remains the strongest unemployment numbers at 3.9% (up from 3.8%) – basically no change.


Edmonton: improved 0.2%

Calgary: up 0.1%

Vancouver: 6.4% to 6.8%

Victoria/Abbotsford – No change to rate

Saskatoon and Regina – Improved by a few points.