Western Alberta unemployment rate improving, but still above historic high

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

(Editor’s note: unattributed data is from Alberta Labour Force Statistics.)

In July, western Alberta’s unemployment rate decreased. This is the first month that its unemployment rate improved since COVID-19 hit Alberta in March. However, it is still above the provincial historic high.

Lesser Slave Lake and Peace regions are part of the western Alberta economic zone, which is technically called Banff – Jasper – Rocky Mountain House and Athabasca – Grande Prairie – Peace River. This large zone extends from the U.S. border to the border with the Northwest Territories.

In July, western Alberta’s unemployment rate was 14.4 per cent, says Alberta Labour Force Statistics. This decrease followed two months of record setting highs, which were the highest (worst) in Alberta. The July rate is between these two records: May (14.1) and June (16.5), but still above the previous record high.

Stats Canada says until 2020, the highest unemployment rate in Alberta was 12.4 per cent in September 1984. Comparable regional data isn’t readily available.

Last July, western Alberta had the lowest unemployment rate (5.2) in Alberta.

This year it was the third highest. The lowest rate was Lethbridge – Medicine Hat (9.5). Edmonton was highest (15.5). The provincial average was 12.8, down from 15.5.

The ‘Labour Force Statistics July 2020 Alberta Highlights’ do not divide the province into regions. The report says unemployment isn’t the only factor in the economy. Another is the number of people employed. In July, the number of people with jobs increased in some sectors. The three with the largest increase were trade, accommodation and food services, and construction. Not all industries were growing, with the most people losing their jobs in business, building and other support services, finance, insurance, real estate and leasing, and public administration.

Industry data isn’t available for regions.

However, the job ads in the Lakeside Leader give an indication of what industries were hiring in Slave Lake and area. In July, there were job ads in trucking, public administration, finance, office administration, food service, and trade.

July unemployment rate in the seven economic zones in Alberta. With 14.4 per cent, western Alberta (including the Lesser Slave Lake and Peace regions) is third highest, which is down from the highest. Courtesy of the Alberta government.

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