Alberta Central’s Chief Economist Charles St-Arnaud was on Global News Edmonton Wednesday to talk April unemployment stats.

Although the unemployment numbers are huge – about three million people have lost their jobs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – what may be even more important is the question of how many of those affected workers will be able to go back to employment once the provinces reopen, says St-Arnaud.

Workers who have been permanently laid off or workers whose employers have gone bankrupt may account for around 10% of those unemployed, and will take longer to get back into the workforce.

In Alberta, the unemployment rate increase is roughly the same as what we’re seeing across the country, says St-Arnaud. But the oil and gas industry will see another shock in the summer and fall, he predicts, as oil companies gain a better grasp of where oil prices are going in the future.

Some industries such as airlines, tourism and restaurants will take longer to recover. “It’s not clear consumers will be keen to go back into crowded spaces for the next few months,” St-Arnaud says.

Take it day by day and be patient, he advises. It will be a slow recovery.

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