Signs of Recovery or Signs of the Times?
After thousands of layoffs, has the Alberta labour market finally turned the corner? Or is there more to these numbers than meets the eye?
There was plenty of rejoicing last week when Statistics Canada released its latest Labour Force survey showing some positive signs for employment in Alberta. There may indeed be light at the end of the tunnel as the province added 20,400 jobs in March, the strongest single month the province has seen in three years, and it’s the fourth month in a row of gains in employment.
We live in a world where numbers are easily manipulated. At first glance, this is good news. The better news is that all of the jobs added were full-time positions in non-energy industries such as finance, insurance and real estate.
But all may not be as rosy as it appears. Look a little closer, 63,000 people – the size of Medicine Hat – have been unemployed for six months or longer.
Some more stats to consider… Since the transition to the NDP government in May 2015, almost 22,000 jobs in the energy sector have been lost with another 2,300 in March. Even more interesting in that same period, public sector jobs have risen by 37,000 while the private sector has shed 68,200 positions.
While government focuses on its growing social programs it has shifted job creation to industries that may not create the same level of economic impact. In a province that was built on the pioneers of the past and its thriving entrepreneurial spirit, this is yet another example of government interference having negative consequences.
Alberta used to be the land where small businesses flourished into successful corporations and important pillars of our employment community, but those days seem to be gone. New policies are working against the very thing Albertans know how to do best… run business.
So is Alberta’s economy really back on track as the March labour numbers seem to suggest? Or does it highlight even further that Alberta needs energy and the private sector to keep driving the economy?
Photo credit: @7thcapture