In December 2020, the unemployment rate in western Alberta was the second lowest (best) in Alberta. However, it was 1.6 times the previous year.
The Alberta Labour Force Statistics divides Alberta into seven economic regions. Slave Lake, Wabasca, High Prairie, Peace River, and neighbours are in western Alberta. This is technically called ‘Banff – Jasper – Rocky Mountain House and Athabasca – Grande Prairie – Peace River.’ It covers more than half of northern Alberta, plus the area west of the Highway 2 corridor all the way to the border with the United States.
Western Alberta unemployment was 9.5 per cent in December 2020. This was down from 10.3 in November 2020, but up from 5.9 a year earlier in December 2019.
The December 2020 provincial rate was 11 per cent, down 0.1 from 11.1 in November 2020. The December 2020 rate was four percentage points higher than December 2019, which was seven per cent.
Compared to other economic regions, western Alberta improved from November to December 2020. In November it was third best (10.3 per cent), by December it was second (9.5). The best was Wood Buffalo – Cold Lake with 8.3. The worst was Lethbridge – Medicine Hat with 10.5.
In December 2019, western Alberta was in third with 5.9. The best was Lethbridge – Medicine Hat. Wood Buffalo – Cold Lake and Camrose – Drumheller were tied for second with 4.2 per cent. The worst was Edmonton with 7.4 per cent.
Businesses as well as individuals are impacted by these high unemployment rates.
On January 14, the Alberta government announced that businesses founded during the pandemic can now apply for Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant.
The news release says, “The Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant offers financial assistance to Alberta businesses, cooperatives and non-profit organizations with fewer than 500 employees that faced restrictions or closures from public health orders, and experienced a revenue loss of at least 30 per cent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“We know that many small businesses are struggling to stay alive,” said Alberta Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer, in a statement about the December 2020 Labour Force Survey. “That is why we tripled the support available to them through our relaunch grant.”
Editor’s note: unless otherwise indicated, all information is from the Alberta Labour Force Statistics December 2020.