June 12, 2023

Weekly EconMinute—May 2023 Labour Force Survey

In this week’s EconMinute, we’re talking about the May 2023 Labour Force Survey.

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This month marks the first sign of a cooling labour market. Nationally, employment was essentially flat from April to May (-17.3k, -0.09%). Provincially, the story was similar (+3.9k, 0.16%) after dipping slightly last month.

In Alberta, employment grew most in part-time positions (+3k) while full-time employment was relatively flat (+900). The recent wildfires are likely to increase part-time employment in the short term (especially in forestry & construction), but could decrease full-time over the longer term.

From an industry perspective, the biggest gains were in construction and education. Losses in professional services—the primary driver of employment growth since 2019—could signal a cooling labour market.

Other signs point to a cooling labour market as well. For instance, earlier this year, Albertans were more likely to be taking on multiple jobs, as businesses were eager to hire. Now, this rate is back in line with pre-COVID trends.

As well, wage growth remains weak in Alberta, with no signs of acceleration compared with last month. Nor are there signs that the province’s gap with the national average is closing.

Finally, regional labour markets are converging as unemployment creeps up in Edmonton and Lethbridge. Meanwhile, Calgary’s unemployment has normalized. This leave the unemployment rate in Calgary and Edmonton now nearly in line.

That said, one good news story is that the uptick in long-term unemployment of men (individuals unemployed 3 months or more) that we noted last month has normalized. However, the rate remains somewhat elevated versus pre-COVID (1.8% versus 1.4%).

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