Alberta Labour Market & Economy- January 2018
Employment jumps to a new high. Alberta added 26,300 jobs in December,
the largest monthly gain since June 2011. Employment increased for the third
month in a row, surpassing the pre-recession peak.
The number of active rigs in Alberta averaged 155 in December, up 2.9% y/y.
The average rig utilization rate was 30% for 2017 up from 17% in 2016.
Year-over-year job growth accelerates. With the monthly gain, employment
has increased by 54,900 or 2.4% year-over-year. This was slightly higher than
the Canadian rate of 2.3%.
Unemployment rate falls to 26-month low. With the strong employment gains,
the unemployment rate declined for the fourth month in a row. It decreased by
0.4 percentage points to 6.9% in December, the lowest level since October
Participation rate moves up. After falling to a 16-year low, the labour force
participation increased 0.6 percentage points to 72.5%.
Private sector gaining ground. Employment in the private sector (+9,900) rose
for the third consecutive month while self-employment (+12,100) increased
after three monthly declines.
Rotation to full-time continues. While the majority of the gains were in full-time
(+15,500), part-time positions also saw a significant increase (+10,800). Since
December 2016, Alberta has added 45,800 full-time and 9,200 part-time jobs.
Balanced sector gains. Both the goods (+12,200) and service (+14,200) sectors
posted strong monthly gains. Employment increased in all the goods-producing
industries led by natural resources. Meanwhile, the gains in the service sector
were concentrated in accommodation and food services (+8,900) and other
services (+4,800). Over the last year, the gains have been balanced between
the goods (+27,800) and service (+27,100) sectors.
Earnings pause in October. Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) eased down
0.1% in October to $1,143. Compared to a year ago, earnings were up 3.5%,
the largest year-over-year gain since January 2015.
Large back-to-back employment gain. Canadian employment grew by 78,600
in December, nearly matching November’s gain which was the largest monthly
increase in more than five years. Employment increased in all provinces, with
Quebec (+26,900) and Alberta (+26,300) leading the way.
Unemployment rate drops to a 43-year low. The Canadian unemployment rate
fell 0.2 percentage points to 5.7%, the lowest level since November 1974.
Canadian earnings edge lower. Although Canadian AWE ticked 0.1% lower
in October to $983, it was 3.1% higher than a year ago.
Alberta’s labour market improved in 2017 as the economic recovery solidified. Employment grew by 1.0% while earnings picked up and the unemployment rate moved down.
The labour market continued to recover in 2017. Average annual employment increased by 23,100 after falling by 37,300 in 2016. All of the gains were in fulltime positions which were partly offset by part-time losses. This ongoing rotation from part-time to full-time moderated the overall employment gains in 2017. Within the year, Alberta added 54,900 with self-employment and the private sector responsible for nearly all of the gains.
As the recovery took hold, the momentum in goods sector employment accelerated. Most the gains were in the hard-hit manufacturing and resource sectors. Despite the steady improvement throughout the year, annual employment in the goods sector was virtually unchanged in 2017 as the gains failed to offset the weakness entering 2017. Conversely, even though employment in the service sector held steady in the second half of the year, solid gains in early in the year boosted annual employment.
After stagnating in 2016 and the first half of 2017, wages started to increase. The province’s average hourly wage
increased by more $1/hr in the last five months of the year. The gain in wages was supported by the ongoing employment growth in the goods sector and increases in full-time positions, which also lifted hours worked.
With the recent strong growth in wages and hours worked, AWE increased 3.5% year-over-year in October, the largest gain since January 2015.
With slowing growth in the labour force and an easing participation rate, the unemployment rate moved significantly
lower in 2017. It fell 1.9 percentage points through 2017 to finish the year at 6.9%. Even with the significant drop,
the unemployment rate remains well above the historical average.
Alberta’s population was 4,306,039 as of October 1, 2017, an increase of 1.3% from the year prior. Canada’s population grew 1.3% from a year ago.
Net migration to Alberta was 11,106 in the third quarter of 2017. During this time, Alberta welcomed 10,363 net international migrants, while there was a net inflow of interprovincial migrants (+743) for the first time in eight quarters.
The economy added 26,300 jobs in December, mostly in the self-employed and private sectors. Employment increased 2.4% y/y, reflecting employment gains in both the goods and services sectors from a year ago.