September 10, 2021

Weekly EconMinute—August 2021 Labour Force Survey

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

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  • It was a good news update for Alberta today based on the August Labour Force Survey. 
  • Alberta saw its second consecutive month of jobs gains. Employment increased 20k (+0.9%) from July to August, driven by an increase in full time jobs (+16k).
  • Meanwhile, the unemployment rate decreased to its lowest level since the beginning of the pandemic—from 8.5% to 7.9% (pre-pandemic: 7.5%)—driven by an increase in employment of the working-age population, as the participation rate held steady.
  • However, demographic differences remain. While working-age men (aged 25-54) have mostly recovered, the employment rate of women in this age remains 1.4% below pre-COVID levels, due to higher unemployment and a lower participation rate. That said, August saw a modest improvement for this group, down from the 1.8% gap as of July.
  • The easing of restrictions seems to have played the biggest role in employment gains. Industries which led the way in recovery include Transportation & Warehousing (+9.2%); Information, Culture and Recreation (+9.8%); and Accommodation and Food Services (+4.2%).
  • We still have a way to go to a full recovery. The latter two industries remain furthest from their pre-pandemic levels of employment (both more than 10% below pre-COVID levels), with the most uncertainty in the face of higher COVID cases and renewed restrictions.
  • The most encouraging sign of today’s update: for the first time in a few months, long-term unemployment (those who have been unemployed for a year or longer) finally saw a small decrease.
  • Though long-term unemployment remains elevated in Alberta—2.2% vs 1.2% nationally—it decreased 8% from July to Aug.

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