Alberta's unemployment rate drops drastically but Calgary, Edmonton jobless rates still high

Although Alberta's unemployment rate continued its downward trend last month, Calgary's jobless rate is now the highest in Canada.

According to Statistics Canada’s April 2022 Labour Force Survey, Alberta had a jobless rate of 5.9 per cent, down six-tenths of a percentage point from March when it sat at 6.5 per cent.

Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer says April’s job numbers reflect the ongoing positive momentum in the province's economy.

"Alberta gained 16,000 new jobs in April and nearly 40,000 jobs since the start of the year. This marks the sixth straight month of job gains in our province," he said.

"Thousands of jobs are being created to help diversify our economy. Diversification is not just a buzzword in Alberta, it is happening faster than anyone expected."

Schweitzer noted Alberta's unemployment rate in April was the lowest it has been since 2015.

"There is still work to be done to capitalize on the new opportunities in our province," he said.

"This is a turnaround year and I am confident our economy is well-positioned to ensure the 2020s will be Alberta’s decade."

In Calgary, the unemployment rate fell to 7.2 per cent in April compared to 7.7 per cent the month prior. Despite the drop, Calgary now has the highest jobless number among the 34 metropolitan areas surveyed.

Calgary Nose Hill MP Michelle Rempel Garner says Calgarians are looking for solutions and support from the federal government, but are receiving neither.

“Less than one month ago, the Prime Minister put forward a budget that failed to provide any meaningful support for Calgarians, failed to put forward a comprehensive plan addressing Canada’s affordability crisis, and failed to support Alberta’s energy sector," she said.

“My community can no longer afford basic necessities under this government. They can no longer afford empty promises from the Prime Minister or budgets filled with programs thatwill take months to create, if ever. They need action now."

On April 25, Rempel Garner put forward a petition calling on the federal government to provide a plan to Canadians that includes "tangible steps the government can take right now to address Canada’s affordability crisis." 

Dexter Lam, senior manager of strategic intelligence with Calgary Economic Development says unemployment rates are only part of the picture when looking at the Calgary's economy.

"We have one of the highest labour force participation in the country. Our labor force participation rate is usually above 70 per cent and has consistently been above 70 – even through the pandemic. Most major Canadian cities you're looking at in the 60s," he said.

"What you have is you have a lot of Calgarians looking for work and a growing number of people who are finding work. The unemployment rate as a statistic is that gap between the number of people who are looking for work and actually have jobs. So when you say that Calgary has the highest unemployment rate, when the economy has the highest number of people looking for work anyways, typically, that kind of explains a lot of it."

Edmonton, meanwhile, dropped two-tenths of a percentage point to 6.1 per cent, compared to 6.3 per cent in March, making it tied with St. John's N.L. for the third highest jobless rate in Canada.

Nationally, the unemployment rate fell to another record low in April, sitting at 5.2 per cent, compared with the previous record low of 5.3 per cent set in March.