September 11, 2023

Weekly EconMinute—August 2023 Labour Force Survey

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

The Canadian labour market continues to show signs of cooling, with overall employment up just +40k jobs in August—less than the pace of pop growth (+103k). However, the slowdown is modest: the employment rate is just shy of what it was (61.9% vs 61.8%).

However, the Alberta labour market continued to show strength. In fact, it led the way in terms of the number of jobs created (+17.7k jobs). And, at the same time, the unemployment rate dipped: from 6.1% to 5.7%.

In fact, across a range of measures of unemployment, the Alberta labour market has now caught up with the rest of Canada. Given positive business sentiment and population growth, Alberta could end up with an even tighter job market in the coming months.

Regionally, the biggest turnaround has been in Calgary. Previously in the worst shape among Canada’s big cities, it is now in line with the national average. Meanwhile, Edmonton’s labour market has seen some softening since the spring.

Increasingly, jobs growth in the province has shifted from services-related industries to goods-producing industries. Specifically, the goods sector drove nearly two-thirds of jobs gains in August.

Within the goods-producing industries, the leaders of jobs growth were construction (+7.2k), manufacturing (+5.6k), and natural resources (+4.4k).

The rise in goods-sector employment represents a shift from post-COVID job recovery which was heavily concentrated in professional services. Now, professional services job growth is moderating while goods-sector employment just recently passed pre-COVID levels.

Though this month’s LFS was generally positive for Alberta, the one snag is wage growth which we have been expecting to heat up. Instead, wages grew more slowly in August but remained roughly in line with the national average.

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