Labour Market Notes

In-depth analysis of Alberta’s latest labour market data.

Latest Labour Market Notes

Download the complete report: Labour Market Notes (July 2018)
Published July 6, 2018 (PDF, 460 KB)

See below for highlights from the publication.

Employment improves in June

Modest employment gains for the second month in a row

  • Alberta added 2,000 jobs in June following a similar increase in May.

Rebound in the private sector

  • The monthly gain was solely due to an increase in the private sector (+14,100), largely offset by a pullback in public sector (-8,100) and self-employment (-4,100).

Slowing momentum

  • The pace of employment growth has slowed in 2018 after strong growth in the latter part of 2017.
  • Alberta has added 7,800 jobs since December and 33,600 jobs over the last 12 months.

Goods sector supporting year-over-year job growth

  • Over the last year, the employment gains have been concentrated in the goods sector (+32,300) while growth in the service sector has moderated (+1,300).
  • The annual gains in the goods sector have been led by a strong rebound in construction (+16,500) and solid increases in natural resources (+13,300) and manufacturing (+7,300).

Rotation to full-time pauses in June

  • All the job gains were in part‑time positions (+2,800) while full-time employment edged lower (-900).
  • Over the last 12 months, full-time employment has increased by 48,900, while part‑time employment has declined (-15,300).

Unemployment rate bumps higher

  • Despite the modest employment gain, the unemployment rate ticked up from a 33-month low. It increased 0.3 percentage points to 6.5% in June as more people entered the labour force.
  • The unemployment rate remains well below 7.5% reading from a year ago.

Participation rate edges up

  • After falling to a 25 year low, the labour force participation rate increased 0.2 percentage points to 71.8%.

Earnings edge lower

  • Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) ticked down 0.2% in March to $1,153, but were up 2.4% compared to a year ago.

Chart 1: Employment growth by province
Year-over-year % change - June 2018 vs. June 2017

Employment growth by province, year-over-year % change. Source: Statistics Canada.
Source: Statistics Canada

Labour InSight

The "Labour InSight" section covers a labour market topic in more detail.

Download the complete report: Labour InSight (July 2018)
Published July 6, 2018 (PDF, 460 KB)

See below for highlights from the publication.

Trends in temporary work

This labour InSight looks at how temporary employment in Alberta has grown over the last 10 years.

  • While the number of temporary workers (those working on contract, or in seasonal or casual positions) has fluctuated with economic cycles, its share to total paid employment has risen since 2009.

Temporary employment adjusted quickly

  • Compared to permanent work, temporary employment was quicker to adjust to changing economic conditions.
  • The number of paid temporary workers in Alberta fell sharply (-16,400) in 2015, while permanent employment continued to grow (+51,800).
  • The losses in temporary jobs were largely concentrated in the energy and related industries as well as in wholesale and retail trade and other services.
  • However, given the strong momentum heading into the downturn, other industries continued to hire permanent workers.
  • In the early stages of the recovery, when the outlook was still uncertain, employers may have managed risk by hiring temporary over permanent workers.
  • Contract positions rebounded immediately in 2016 and all other types of temporary positions also gained ground in 2017 (Chart 2).

Chart 2: Temporary employment quick to recover following recessions
Annual change in Alberta temporary employment by type

Chart 2: Temporary employment quick to recover following recessions - Annual change in Alberta temporary employment by type
Source: Statistics Canada

Growth in contract jobs

  • In addition to cyclical changes, temporary employment has been rising over the last decade.
  • In Alberta, the number of paid temporary workers grew by an average of 4.0% per year over the last decade to reach 248,100 in 2017.
  • This was faster than the growth in permanent paid employment over the same period.
  • As a result, the share of temporary to paid employment grew from less than 10% in 2008 to 13% in 2017.
  • Contract jobs were the primary driver behind this, accounting for more than half of the gains in temporary employment.
  • Moreover, this trend towards contract work has been occurring in Alberta since 2008 and across Canada since early 2000 (Chart 3).

Chart 3: Growing share of contract employment
Share of paid employment* in term and contract positions

Chart 3: Growing share of contract employment - Share of paid employment in term and contract positions, excluding self-employment
Source: Statistics Canada and Treasury Board and Finance. * Excludes self-employment

Gains in casual and seasonal

  • Alberta’s share of casual employment has also risen over the last decade, closely mirroring the national trend.
  • The share of paid workers in seasonal employment has also risen over this period, mainly due to a jump following the 2009 and 2015-16 recessions.
  • With the latest increase, the share of seasonal employment has returned to early 2000 levels and remains in line with the national level.



Issues prior to 2018

Labour Market Notes Archive (August 2012 to current)

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Robert Van Blyderveen, Economist
Alberta Treasury Board and Finance

Phone: 780-638-5628
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)