August 3, 2021

Episode #49: The Brief: Long-Term Unemployment in Alberta with Michele Evans, ADM, Labour & Immigration, Alberta Government

For a long time, even throughout the boom-and-bust cycles well known to the Alberta’s labour force, those who found themselves unemployed could quickly find work because the job market was strong.

However, the 2015/16 oil price crash and resulting recession sent the unemployment rate soaring, and unfortunately, it has remained stubbornly high ever since.

When we add the pressures of a global pandemic on top of an already struggling labour market, the story gets much worse. Today, Alberta has the highest long-term unemployment rate in the country.

In June 2021, the long-term unemployment rate—those who have been out of the work force for more than one year—sat at 2.4%. This just isn’t a statistic—this translates to thousands of Albertans who are out of work. And being out the labour force for so long has some significant negative impacts, including skills atrophy, loss of confidence, and impact of finances, to name a few.

Some tailwinds are adding some relief to the market, including the Alberta Jobs Now program, improving hiring expectations, and a rebound in employment in particularly hard-hit sectors, but the challenge remains great.

So what do we do about it?

We spoke with Michele Evans, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Workforce Strategies Division at the Government of Alberta’s Labour & Immigration Ministry about this challenge, and what we as policy makers, businesses, and Albertans can do to ensure that there are opportunities and Albertans are skilled to thrive within them.

In this episode:

  • Bright spots in Alberta’s labour market right now
  • How the labour market has changed since 2015-16 recession
  • Impact of long-term unemployment on people
  • Long-term unemployment across the country
  • Why there’s a gap between high unemployment and increasing hiring expectations
  • Impact of income support programs on the labour market
  • The “Great Resignation” and Alberta’s labour market
  • Impact of the Alberta Jobs Now program so far
  • Shifting needs and skills for the evolving labour market
  • What policy options are in front us to solve this challenge
  • Energy sector and the labour market

Resources mentioned:

About The Brief

In this series, co-hosts Scott Crockatt and Brittany Brander explore the big challenges we face as Albertans; celebrate stories of growth, innovation, and prosperity; and discover bold ideas to make life better for Albertans.

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