By Todd Hirsch
Senior Economist, ATB Financial
Despite the shamrocks and leprechauns, March proved to be anything but lucky for job seekers in Alberta.
Last month, the province shed an additional 3,800 jobs (seasonally adjusted), the third month in a row of employment losses. Alberta is the only province where employment currently stands below where it did in July of last year (which marked the worst of the recession at the national level).
But while the job losses were fairly small, the unemployment rate jumped from 6.9% in February to 7.5% in March, which is the highest rate of unemployment in the province since 1996. The jobless rate rose mostly because more people entered the job market in March. Nationally, Canada’s economy moved in the opposite direction, adding some 17,900 jobs, most of those in Ontario (+10,000) and Quebec (+6,000). The national increase was somewhat below the economists’ expectations of a gain of 26,000 jobs, and gains were concentrated in part-time work. Canada’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.2%. While Alberta lost jobs overall, there were gains posted in the three areas of employment hit hardest by last year’s recession: oil and gas (+5,200),
manufacturing (+4,200), and construction (+1,400). Job losses in March were concentrated in public administration, educational services, and professional and technical services.
This morning’s job report is a disappointment for Alberta, which continues to lag the rest of the country in employment. But despite the lousy first quarter, jobs are bound to return as the economy gains momentum in the rest of 2010.
(Editorial word of caution: Mainstream economists are mentally conditioned to promulgate growth as the only possible long term economic trend)