Provincial Minister of Jobs, Economy, and Innovation Doug Schweitzer said the December Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada “demonstrates the resiliency of the Alberta economy with an increase of 30,000 full-time jobs. This happened in the middle of a provincewide shutdown.”
“We know that many small businesses are struggling to stay alive. That is why we tripled the support available to them through our relaunch grant. As of Jan. 7, we have paid out more than $232 million to more than 36,000 small and medium-sized businesses to help them when they need it most,” said Schweitzer.
A closer reading of the data, however, suggests worse news is yet to come as the reference week for the survey is December 6 to 12 and as Statistics Canada noted, “additional public health measures implemented in many provinces after the December LFS reference week are likely to be reflected in January Labour Force Survey Results.”
Social gatherings were banned in Alberta on Dec. 8, while widespread business closures became effective Dec. 13.
While there was an increase of 30,300 full-time jobs in Alberta, there was also a loss of 42,200 part-time jobs and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate jumped from 7 per cent in December 2019 to 11 per cent in December 2020.
The big picture for Alberta didn’t change much from November, the province has still seen a 5.4 per cent decrease in employment compared to pre-pandemic levels according to Statistics Canada.
“Employment declines were most notable in information, culture and recreation; construction; and accommodation and food services, while more people were working in business, building and other support services,” said the survey.
On a national level, part-time employment declined by 2.9 per cent overall, with people aged 15 to 24 and 55 and older hardest hit by losses.
Public and private sector employment remained stable, but self-employment fell by 62,000 to the lowest point it has been since February 2020. According to Statistics Canada, the largest declines in self-employment were in the construction, transportation and warehousing, and health care and social assistance industries.
“The pandemic is not over but we are hopeful we will soon see restrictions loosened and jobs recovered as we move forward,” said Schweitzer.