For South Peace News
In December 2022, the unemployment rate in the economic region which includes the Lesser Slave and Peace regions was better than it had been in November or the year before.
Alberta is divided into seven economic regions. Slave Lake, Wabasca, High Prairie, Peace River, Falher, and surrounding communities are in ‘Banff – Jasper – Rocky Mountain House and Athabasca -Grande Prairie – Peace River.’ It covers western Alberta from the border with the United States to the border with the Northwest Territories. In the south it is narrow, but widens to more than half of Alberta south of Athabasca. It is called ‘western Alberta’ throughout this article.
In December 2022, western Alberta had an unemployment rate of 5.2 per cent. Generally, a lower unemployment rate is seen as better. This was an improvement over the previous month (5.6 per cent) and the previous year (6.4 per cent).
However, compared to the rest of the province, this was the third highest (worst) in the province.
The December 2022 rate in western Alberta was likely not evenly distributed across the region. However, community specific data is only released in the census. The 2021 census is based on information gained from 25 per cent of the population who filled out a survey about employment information for the week of May 2-8, 2021.
In May 2021, western Alberta had the lowest unemployment rate in Alberta at 4.7 per cent, says the Alberta Labour Force statistics from that month. It was lower than December 2022.
In general, a low unemployment rate and a high employment rate are considered good. However, the relationship between unemployment and employment is not straightforward.
For example, in the census, Bigstone Cree Nation (Jean Baptiste Gambler) had a zero per cent unemployment, but 25 per cent employment.
Following are four other unemployment and employment rates (percentages) in the area: Canyon Creek (5.7 and 73.3), Slave Lake (9.6 and 68.2), Loon River First Nation (22.2 and 45.2), and M.D. of Opportunity (17.5 and 50.1).
However, the monthly statistics do not divide the employment rate by regions, so regional or local numbers are only available in the census.
Most of a sample of communities in Lesser Slave and Peace regions had a higher unemployment rate than the average for western Alberta suggested. Out of this sample, the best rate (other than the four zeros) was 5.7 in Canyon Creek and the worst was 28.6 in Swan River First Nation. Four small communities had an estimated unemployment rate of zero per cent – Kinuso (workforce of 125 people), Sawridge First Nation (35 people), Bigstone Cree Nation – Desmarais (90 people) and Bigstone Jean Baptiste Gambler (160 people). It did not however translate into a high employment rate, as a large number of people were either retired, not looking for work, or not in the labour force.
Unless otherwise stated, data is from the Alberta Labour Force Statistics.
Editor’s note: The Census lists Bigstone by individual reserves and settlement. The Bigstone number is found by adding all unemployment numbers and dividing these from the total number of eligible workers.