Thousands of new Albertans arrive each quarter because of the hot labour situation in the province. But judging by the most recent numbers, the jobs market may be cooling just a bit.
In December, there were 6,100 fewer jobs in Alberta than there were in the previous month. That’s the first time in six months the province actually shed jobs. The unemployment rate ticked up from 4.2 per cent in November to 4.5 per cent.
Alberta’s one-month drop in jobs obscures one of the most important elements in the data: the split between full- and part-time jobs. Full-time positions actually roared ahead in December, rising by nearly 18,000. That was more than offset by a loss of almost 24,000 part-time jobs. So while the overall number of employees did drop, the quality of the jobs increased—as did the paycheques.
It’s also important to take a long-term view of the jobs situation. In 2012, employment rose by
31,800—an increase of 1.5 per cent over the previous year. That’s respectable, however it is
actually below employment growth for all of Canada (+1.8 per cent).
It also represents a distinct cooling from 2011 when Alberta added 98,800 jobs (+4.9 per cent).
Despite the cooling trend, Alberta’s job market remains balanced—not too hot and not too cold.
The moderation in job creation suggests the current labour shortages may ease up a bit. That
would be a relief to many employers in the province.*
* Todd Hirsch, Senior Economist, ATB Financial