October 8, 2021

Weekly EconMinute—September 2021 Labour Force Survey

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

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September was another solid month for employment with an increase of 19.6k new jobs, led by new full-time positions.

  • Employment growth accelerated after a tepid summer. Canada added 157k jobs, finally bringing total jobs, but not employment rate, back to pre-pandemic levels. A similar story in Alberta: 19.6k jobs were added in September, but the percentage of the population with a job sits still slightly below February 2020 levels.
  • Job gains in Alberta were led by wholesale and retail trade (15.1k), and a bump in pre-election hiring in the public service. On the downside, hospitality businesses are still struggling, and there were notable losses in construction and agriculture as well.
  • Another bit of good news is that job growth in Alberta was entirely in full-time positions. The province added 25.8k full-time jobs in September, while part-time employment was down 6.1k.
  • As kids went back to school, many in Alberta started looking for work. The participation rate rose to its highest level in a year, led by working-age women returning to the labour pool. As a result, the unemployment rate in Alberta rose to 8.1% despite solid job gains.
  • September also saw a strong recovery in labour market conditions for women in Alberta. Women dominated jobs gains and the employment rate for women 25-54 is now higher than pre-pandemic levels. The exception is women 55+ for whom job prospects remain weak.
  • Long-term unemployment—people unemployed for 1+ years—remains a concern in Alberta. The long-term jobless rate fell slightly in September, but is still among the highest in Canada. It’s especially an issue for older Albertans & older women in particular.

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