There may finally be reason for optimism on the provincial job outlook. 

For the first time since October, Alberta has seen in an increase in employment, and Calgary has seen its unemployment rate dip. 

That’s all according to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey released Friday. 

It says the province gained about 20,800 jobs in the month of January, despite remaining under strict COVID-19 measures. 

ATB Deputy Chief Economist Rob Roach believes it’s good news. 

“We still did see a significant drop in that food and accommodations sector...but luckily, in other sectors in Alberta — notably construction and oil and gas and a few sectors like that — some jobs did come back,” Roach said. “It was enough to overall improve employment just a little bit.”

Alberta’s construction sector added 15,300 jobs in January, while the food and accommodation services industry took the biggest hit, with 17,900 jobs lost. 

Stats Canada says part-time employment saw a promising increase with 21,100 more jobs last month.  

300 full-time positions were lost. 

Alberta’s unemployment rate now sits at 10.7 per cent, which is the second highest in the country, behind Newfoundland and Labrador at 12.8 per cent. 

But Roach sees a way back. Not only just for Alberta, but for all of Canada’s economy. 

“(The unemployment rate) will come down throughout the course of the year as the vaccine continues and the weather improves, and as the health measures are gradually lifted,” he said. “But it will take some time.”

Meanwhile, job situations look different in Alberta’s two largest cities. 

Calgary lost 8,000 positions in January, raising its unemployment rate to 10.6 per cent from the previous 10.5 per cent in December. 

In Edmonton, employment went up by 7,800 last month, but unemployment increased by 5,500, raising the unemployment rate 0.5 points to 11.9 per cent. 

Economists speculate that’s due to an increase in the price of oil, which pushes many workers to the energy sector. 

There’s a higher concentration of oil field service jobs in Edmonton. 

Across Canada, employment decreased by 212,800 — about a 1.2 per drop from the month prior. Economists in a Bloomberg survey had predicted a drop of 40,000. That’s on top of 52,700 jobs lost in December.

The national unemployment rate now sits at 9.4 per cent, which is the highest since August. Many of the losses in January were part-time and coming from the Quebec and Ontario regions.