March 14, 2022

Weekly EconMinute—Employment by gender in Alberta

In this week’s EconMinute, we’re talking about employment by gender in Alberta.

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A primary concern, especially early on in the pandemic, was that women were leaving the workforce in droves. A large part of this had to do with women working in jobs and industries most directly affected by restrictions. But another contributing factor and concern was day care and school closures that kept many parents, especially women, at home at various points over the past two years.

In the continued spirit of International Women’s Day, we decided it was worth taking a longer-term look at employment of women (and men) over time to see what we could glean from the overall trend and the impact of COVID.

Focusing on those in their primary working years (age 25 – 54), here is what we found:  

  • As of 1976 (the latest time for which data are available), just 53% of women worked. As of 2022, that number was 80%. Meanwhile, the percent of men who were working has declined from a high of 95% in 1976 to 88% in 2022.  
  • As well, women have increasingly taken on full-time positions. Of women who worked, 73% worked full-time in 1976; now that number is 77%. Over this time, men have increasingly picked up part-time positions (from 1% to 5%), though the vast majority of men who work are employed full-time.
  • Remarkably, the pandemic does not seem to have had a sustained negative impact on either the percentage of women working, or the percentage working full-time. In fact, there has been a relative increase in women working full-time.  
  • That said, employment of women was generally on an upward trend in Alberta before and it is possible that this has been, to some degree, interrupted.
  • Over the next couple of years, we hope to see this upward trend resume. While there are a number of factors at play, one recent policy change is likely to support working women—the federal-provincial early learning and child care agreement which is already dramatically decreasing the cost of child care.

Check out a deeper analysis on gender equity in Alberta in part one of our topic series, in partnership with Axis Connects.

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