Alberta makes some gains in 'booming' employment market, but unemployment rate remains high

Alberta is continuing to gain back some of the thousands of jobs lost during the pandemic, but the provincial unemployment rate remains high.

New job numbers show Alberta's unemployment rate fell to 7.9 per cent in August, down from 8.5 per cent in July. Nearly 20,000 positions were added in the month, led by gains in the transportation and warehouse sectors.

"It's positive news," said ATB economist Rob Roach.

"But it's also that 18 months during which we haven't had any additional job growth. So, we have to catch up to where we were, but also (our economy has to make up for) the jobs that would have been created in the last year and a half. We still have some ground to make up. We're getting there, but a little to early to say 'mission accomplished'," he said.

WORKER SHORTAGE

Despite the high unemployment rate, Alberta is also experiencing a worker shortage. Some recruiters and staffing companies say there are thousands of positions that need to be filled.

"It's booming right now. Truly the job market is like nothing we've seen in quite some time. It's absolutely booming in all different sectors, different industries," said Cristina Schultz with About Staffing.

"It's really become a quite competitive market for job seekers."

Because of the positive market, Schultz says, workers are able to be pickier with where they want to work. Some employers are also having to provide incentives to fill jobs.

"Ultimately it really does come to a place where people are not out there actively looking for work. They're sitting at home being supported by the government," Schultz added.

Calgary's unemployment rate also decreased in August, but it is still sitting at 9.6 per cent -- higher than the overall provincial rate.

Alberta's 7.9 per cent unemployment is the lowest it has been since before the onset of the pandemic last March.