Each week our policy team will bring you an update on a key economic indicator along with a quick overview of how it may impact the business community.
Unemployment rate in Calgary
Calgary’s unemployment rate has gone up from 7.7% in June to 7.9% in July.
Calgary has the highest unemployment rate among all major Canadian cities, and two percentage points above the national rate. Calgary now has 13,700 fewer jobs compared to January 2018 and 10,200 fewer than this time last year.
Alberta’s unemployment rate also went up slightly to 6.7% in July. Although there was a rise in part-time positions last month, it did not fully offset the decline in full-time positions resulting in a net loss of 3,600 jobs across the province.
Compared to this time last year, employment figures have been improving across Alberta, with 40,000 total jobs added.
In the past year Canada added 246,000 jobs, largely the result of growth in full-time work. Canada’s unemployment rate now sits at 5.8%.
Canada’s July employment gains are largely attributed to public-sector growth, as private-sector jobs were virtually unchanged. Compared to last year, public-sector employment has increased by 132,000, while the private-sector has increased by 69,000 jobs.
2.6% job vacancy rate in Alberta (Q1 2018)
The job vacancy rate tracks how many jobs are going unfilled relative to the total number of jobs. A high vacancy rate may suggest that businesses are having a difficult time finding employees – or finding ones with the right skills. A lower vacancy rate – as experienced recently in Alberta – can be a sign of a struggling economy.
Alberta’s 2.6% job vacancy rate has increased since 2016 – Calgary and Edmonton have the lowest within the province – but remains below the national vacancy rate of 2.9%. BC has the highest vacancy rate among the provinces at 4.2%.
7.7% unemployment rate in Calgary
Calgary’s unemployment rate is the highest among all major Canadian cities. There are nearly 70,000 unemployed Calgarians, with our city losing nearly 4,600 jobs between May and June. While the picture may seem gloomy, Calgary’s labour market has seen improvements over the past few years.
Stats Canada Table 14-10-0294-01
Public sector growing in Alberta
Since 2014, public-sector jobs across all three levels of government in Alberta have increased by 21% – faster than any other province.
In the prior period from 2009 to 2014, Alberta’s public sector grew by less than 1%. But over the past few years, the number of public sector jobs has grown rapidly, increasing by 21% since June 2014. To put that into perspective, BC has the second highest public-sector growth over this time period with just under 10% growth.
Statistics Canada Table 14-10-0288-01
Economic Growth in 2017
4.9% – Alberta’s economy led growth among all provinces in 2017. But risks to future growth remain.
Canada’s economy grew by 3.3% last year, which was the highest growth among all G7 countries. The Alberta energy sector was a key contributor to growth with oil and gas extraction topping a record $125 billion in production.
Alberta’s economy also experienced a surge in growth. In 2017, the Alberta economy grew faster than any other province, 1 percentage point greater than BC – the second fastest growing province. To put this in context – it is greater than at the end of 2013, but below historic highs of 2014.
Canada and Alberta are both expected to see growth slow. Canada’s growth rate is expected to be around 2% in 2018 and 2019, with longer-term growth forecasted to slow to 1.75% – significantly lower than its historical average. The Alberta economy is also expected to see growth edge down around to 2.5% over the next few years.
Risks to future growth include uncertainty around market access and international trade, lagging business investment and the impact of U.S. tax reforms, along with government costs layered on business. Addressing these risks should be top priority for all levels of governments to support future growth.