April 30, 2024

Weekly EconMinute—Private and Public Sector Employment Growth

In this week’s EconMinute, we’re talking about the private and public sector employment growth.

Private sector job creation is a cornerstone of a strong economy. And while Canada’s economy is continuing to add jobs, a recent article pointed out that most of those jobs are being created in the public sector; and underlying private sector employment growth has been weaker than headline numbers suggest.

This can be a problem if sustained for any length of time. While increased hiring in the public sector can reflect a growing need for essential services like healthcare and education, it doesn’t represent fundamental economic strength and may not be sustainable. Ultimately, it is the revenue created by the private sector that funds the public sector.

Canada as a whole is seeing most of its job growth driven by hiring in the public sector, but Alberta stands out in a positive way. The province has been responsible for 90% of all Canada’s private sector employment growth in the past 6 months.

We wanted to look more closely at employment growth in the public and private sectors across the provinces over the most recent 12 months.

Here’s what we found:

  • Over the 12-month period ending in March 2024, Alberta was the only major province where employment growth in the private sector was greater than in the public sector (5.5% to 4.7%).
  • Private sector employment growth in Alberta over that period was five times greater than the national average (5.5% growth compared to just over 1% growth nation-wide).
  • Alberta is one of the only major provinces that saw significant private sector job growth. In Ontario, private sector jobs increased by just 0.4%, while BC and Quebec saw a decline.
  • Employment growth in Alberta’s public sector is only just behind the national average at 4.7% compared to 4.8% and is slightly ahead of both Ontario and Quebec.

Alberta’s private sector employment growth has largely been driven by gains in the construction industry, finance, forestry, mining, and oil and gas. Industries such as construction are expected to continue to add workers as major project activity and provincial infrastructure spending pick up. 

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