Unemployment decreases, still high

A map of Alberta clearly shows the seven regions used for unemploymetn statistics. Regions are shown by colour.

SPN Staff

In October 2020, the unemployment rate in western Alberta improved, but it is still close to twice last year’s rate.

In comparison to other regions it lost ground; however, it still has the third best unemployment rate in Alberta.

Each month, the Alberta government issues the Alberta Labour Force statistics for the previous month. This divides Alberta into seven economic regions.

Western Alberta is technically called ‘Banff – Jasper – Rocky Mountain House and Athabasca – Grande Prairie – Peace River.’ It includes all these communities and their neighbours from the U.S. border along the Rockies to half of Alberta north of Edmonton. It includes Slave Lake, High Prairie, Peace River, Falher, Wabasca-Desmarais, etc.

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Canada in March 2020, the unemployment rate in Alberta increased, i.e. got worse.

However, for the last few months it has improved [decreased].

“Alberta’s unemployment rate has fallen four months in a row,” says Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer about the October Labour Statistics.

“With five consecutive months of growth, the addition of 23,400 jobs in October means that our province has now recovered 258,400 jobs that were lost during the pandemic. The majority of these jobs were full time.”

The trend has also happened within western Alberta. In October 2020, the unemployment rate in western Alberta was 10.8 per cent. This was 0.4 per cent better than September, but five per cent [close to twice] more than the October 2019 rate of 5.8 per cent.

In October 2020, western Alberta was the third lowest of seven economic districts in Alberta. This is a worse position than September when it was second best at 11.2 per cent.

In October, Wood Buffalo – Cold Lake was in the second best position with 9.9 per cent. Lethbridge – Medicine Hat was lowest with 8.7 per cent.

In October 2019, western Alberta also had the third best unemployment rate in the province. Wood Buffalo – Cold Lake was also second [5.1 per cent], but Camrose Drumheller was best [4.3 per cent].

In October 2019, the worst Albertan unemployment rate was 7.4 per cent [Calgary].

To put the current rate in perspective, it is is 1.3 per cent worse than the best rate in October 2020.

In October 2020, says Labour Force Statistics, Alberta has the second worst unemployment rate in Canada [10.7 per cent]. Newfoundland and Labrador had the worst [12.8 per cent].

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