Alberta’s most recent unemployment rate of 4.7 per cent is more than two percentage points below the national rate of 6.9 per cent. Not only are there proportionately fewer people unemployed in Alberta, but those who are tend to be without work for a shorter amount of time.
Last month, according to Statistics Canada, there were an estimated 18,400 Albertans who had been looking for work for 27 weeks or longer. That accounts for a little more than 15 per cent of the total number of unemployed workers in the province. Nationally, the number of people without work for the same length of time (269,900) made up about 20 per cent of the total for all of Canada.
The graph below shows the percentage of those unemployed who have been without work for 27 weeks or longer. For the most part, Alberta’s percentage has been below the Canadian rate.
During the sharp downturn in 2009, Alberta's rate of long term unemployment skyrocketed, increasing from a low of less than 3.4 per cent (3,000 people) in August 2008 to a high of 22.8 per cent (36,800 people) in April of 2010. That was much steeper than the increase of the national rate, which went from about 11 per cent to 23 per cent.
For a couple of months, Alberta’s rate was higher than Canada's. Interestingly, Alberta’s rate has settled down somewhat, although it’s not nearly as low as it was in 2007 and 2008. Canada’s, however, has remained stubbornly high.