Surge of Alberta jobs in July linked to June flood

The southern Alberta flood in late June is being partly credited for the province’s surprisingly strong creation of 16,600 new jobs in July and its seasonally adjusted jobless rate decline to 4.5 per cent from 5.0 per cent the previous month.
ATB Financial economist Todd Hirsch said the flood may also provide a “plausible” explanation for why Calgary’s unemployment rate rose to 5.2 per cent in July from 5.0 in June (while cautioning that city numbers are based on small survey samples).
“Businesses were closed and remained closed for the month so those people were out of work. Some of those businesses are still closed,” he said.
“Meanwhile, people from Edmonton and other parts of the province have been coming to Calgary to help with the cleanup, so that’s one possible reason for the numbers we’re seeing.”
He said he expects the jobless rates to return to normal when August numbers are released next month.
Jeff Gaulin, marketing vice-president for Calgary-based Tervita Corp., said the company had 750 staff and contractors working on the flood-related cleanup of Stampede Park, the Saddledome and the teetering Bonnybrook railway bridge in July, plus about 300 people doing similar work in the High River region.
“A good number of those jobs would be people who were already employed by Tervita but for projects like this we do a significant amount of hiring,” he said.
“It’s the cascade effect that’s quite positive in terms of the economy although, obviously, not the type of work people like to see, as it’s disaster related.”
Alberta and Saskatchewan remain the hot job markets of the Canadian economy with employment growing by 3.0 and 3.9 per cent, respectively, over the last 12 months. Saskatchewan’s July jobless rate of 4.0 was the best in the land, followed by Alberta. Prairie gains contrasted with the national picture, however, as Canada posted a loss of 39,400 net jobs in July versus June, the second consecutive month-over-month decline.
The public sector and youth accounted for the biggest share of the losses. The official unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.2 per cent.
A Calgarian who says she wouldn’t mind a little rise in the local jobless rate is Kim Mosher, general manager of the Quarry Park Baton Rouge restaurant that opened two years ago.
In an online ad, the company says it needs “hard-working individuals” and adds: “Bring us your current pay stub. If hired, we will pay you $2 more per hour than (where) you are now. That’s $4,000 more a year to catch up on bills or take a vacation or two.”
Mosher said it’s very difficult to retain staff because the market is so competitive. She said kitchen managers are demanding and getting $50,000 to $70,000 per year, salaries close to what a GM might receive.
“We’ve got to be competitive and we’re willing to be competitive,” she said. The restaurant has about 30 employees but could use four or five more.
Statistics Canada noted Friday that six provinces sustained a net drop in employment in July, with the biggest fall in Quebec where 30,400 jobs were lost.
Alberta’s adjusted total employment rose to 2.2 million workers in July, up 65,000 from July 2012.
The increase came despite the loss of 9,500 jobs in the oil and gas sector and 4,900 jobs in construction from a year ago – made up for by gains from the service side of the economy, including professional and technical, retail and wholesale trade and information, culture and recreation.
The national setback, which followed a much smaller retreat in May, all but wipes out hope that April’s unusual surge of 95,000 added jobs might have been signalling an upward trend for the Canadian economy.
Statistics Canada said with the latest result, employment growth has averaged a meagre 11,000 a month during the first half of 2013, far less than the 27,000 average gain realized during the second half of 2012.
Analysts say the economy needs to create between 15,000 and 20,000 new jobs each month just to keep up with population growth.
The tally for the past 12 months is more impressive with 226,000 new jobs created, but the government agency noted that part-time work rose at twice the speed of full-time.
The Bank of Canada, and the vast majority of economists, have anticipated slow economic growth during the second quarter of this year, which ended in June, with the economy expected to kick into a higher gear in the third quarter. July’s jobs report suggests the rebound may be a little longer off, however.
Nationally, job losses were disproportionately bunched in the public service, which shed a whopping 74,000 workers in July, with big declines in health care, social assistance and in public administration.
Private employers actually added 31,400 jobs during the month.
Young Canadians also bore the biggest burden of the losses, as workers in the 15-24 age group saw their numbers diminish by 45,600.

Dan Healing, Calgary Herlad

Published: Saturday, August 10, 2013

Alberta unemployment rate the lowest in Canada – Down to 4.2% in November

There were more than 10,000 new jobs created in Alberta in November as the province’s unemployment rate dipped to the lowest in the country, according to Statistics Canada.

The federal agency reported Friday that employment in Alberta was up by 10,100 positions from the previous month, an increase of 0.5 per cent. Year-over-year, employment has risen by 1.8 per cent or 38,900 positions in Alberta.
In November, the province’s unemployment rate fell to 4.2 per cent, down from 4.5 per cent in October.
In the Calgary census metropolitan area, the unemployment rate remained the same as in October at 4.7 per cent but the region created 5,200 new jobs, up 0.7 per cent on a monthly basis. Employment also grew by 3.1 per cent year-over-year to 23,000 new positions.
Edmonton’s unemployment rate of 4.1 per cent and Calgary’s rate of 4.7 per cent were ranked second and third, respectively, among Canadian Census Metropolitan Areas, behind Regina’s 4.0 per cent.
“After a few months of subdued growth, Alberta’s labour market kicked back into high gear in November,” said Todd Hirsch, senior economist with ATB Financial. But virtually all of these jobs were part-time positions, he added.
“Alberta’s job market showed more strength on the service side of the economy in November than on the goods-producing side. Indeed, some of the goods-producing sectors that had been showing the strongest growth this year — construction, oil and gas, and manufacturing — all shed positions in November. The strongest job gains last month were in food and accommodation (7,400), health care and social assistance (6,500), and transportation and warehousing (6,100).”
But he said Alberta’s job market has moderated in 2012. For example, 99,000 jobs were added in the province in the 12 months leading up to November 2011.
“But the slower pace of job creation is actually healthy,” explained Hirsch. “Job markets can be too tight, leading employers to hire workers with inadequate experience or training. With the unemployment rate already at 4.2 per cent, the province is getting a bit too close to labour shortages. And, indeed, in many parts of northeastern Alberta, those shortages are already here.”
Nationally, employment rose by 59,000 in November as the unemployment rate declined 0.2 percentage points to 7.2 per cent.
Compared with 12 months earlier, employment increased 1.7 per cent or 294,000 across Canada.
Doug Porter, deputy chief economist of BMO Capital Markets, said November was “a rock-solid Canadian employment result.”
It was the biggest employment gain since March.
“After a wave of weaker than expected economic releases in Canada, this robust report is a major breath of fresh air for the economy,” said Porter. “While one jobs report doesn’t change the bigger picture, it does show there is still some underlying resiliency in the domestic economy.”
Dina Ignjatovic, economist with TD Economics, said the national unemployment rate is the lowest level since June.
“The (job) increases in November were fairly widespread, though the services-producing sector (65,700) was the bright spot,” she said. “Accommodation and food services (28,300) recorded the largest increase, marking only the third month of job creation in the sector this year. The trade sector (25,300) also recorded outsized gains in November, the fifth increase in seven months.

“Professional, scientific and technical services (22,800) also rose for a fourth consecutive month, making up for some of the losses seen during the first half of the year. Declines in manufacturing (20,000) and construction (8,400) led to an overall decline in the goods-producing sector (6,200).”
She said the job market will be facing several headwinds in the future.
“The public sector is dealing with spending constraints which is likely to limit hiring prospects, while the private sector will continue to be faced with a slower growing economy,” she explained. “Add to that, that persistent uncertainty surrounding global economic growth and the ability of policy-makers in the U.S. to address their fiscal challenges, and businesses will not likely be rushing to ramp up their workforce. Once the external environment does improve — likely by mid-2013 — related sectors such, as manufacturing, will likely respond with increased employment. Overall, we expect employment to be fairly steady next year, increasing by an average of about 15,000 jobs per month, with the unemployment rate holding fairly steady.”

By Mario Toneguzzi, Calgary Herald December 7, 2012