Provincial unemployment hits 15.5 per cent in second month of shutdown
EDMONTON -- Over the second month of Alberta’s economic shutdown, unemployment rose to 15.5 per cent according to Statistics Canada.
The premier called the number deceiving.
"That masks the reality because of the many tens of thousands of Albertans who've had to leave the labour force altogether," Jason Kenney said Friday during a news conference.
"There is some small good news in that many people are returning to work and getting employed again, but we Albertans know that it's going to be a long time before we're out of the woods."
While 26,800 full-time jobs were lost last month, there was a net gain with the creation of some 55,000 part-time positions.
In Edmonton, the unemployment rate grew 3.6 points from the 10 per cent it sat at in April, which had also seen an increase from 7.9 per cent in March.
Alberta’s capital city lost a total of 48,200 jobs in May.
The research director of ATB Economics, too, believes the April data doesn't tell the full story.
"If you include discouraged workers who during the pandemic said there's really not much point in looking for work now, if you add them back into the labour market, the unemployment rate would be more around 20 per cent," Rob Roach told CTV News Edmonton.
He said the added jobs last month are likely laid-off employees returning to their positions with reduced hours.
Calgary, too, saw a decrease of 33,900 positions. Its unemployment rate sits just below Edmonton’s at 13.4 per cent in May, up from 10.8 per cent in April.
Alberta’s unemployment levels are the second-highest across the country.
The province sits .8 per cent below Newfoundland’s 16.3 per cent.
Kenney said job creators had been among the hardest hit by the pandemic while announcing businesses with less than 500 employees who were truggling to reopen could soon be eligible for a one-time relaunch payment. The amount could be worth as much as 15 per cent of the business' monthly sales revenue, up to a maximum of $5,000.
An employer who had to close one of two store locations says every bit helps, but the promised aid wouldn't have been enough.
"I feel they're doing the right thing to stop the immediate losses, but the long-term survivability of business is going to be determined by the local support," Brian Flowers, owner of Table Top Cafe, told CTV News Edmonton.
However, Roach said a real economic bounce back needs more than stimulation from the UCP government.
"Demand for oil around the world, people out shopping again, consumer confidence. That's what needs to come back, and that's what'll make the biggest difference going forward."
Canada’s most recent 13.7 per cent toppled the previous record of 13.1 per cent set in December 1982.
Over a year, the difference is nearly 350,000 fewer jobs in Alberta than there were May 2019: 267,400 fewer full-time jobs, and 82,300 fewer part-time positions.
Last year, Alberta’s unemployment rate had been 8.8 per cent.
However, Roach said the provincial rate has been higher than the country's since the 2015-16 recession, sending Alberta into the pandemic with worse employment numbers than other provinces.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Amanda Anderson