“I’m sure everyone is quick to jump to the conclusion that the unemployment rate in Alberta is now at its lowest since 2018, but we have to caution that part of that is because our participation rate is still below where it was pre-COVID,” said Charles St-Arnaud, senior economist at Alberta Central in a recent interview with the Calgary Herald. “There’s still about 1.1 (percentage points) of the labour force that is still staying on the sidelines and hasn’t come back.”
The current participation rate is 69.3 per cent, down from 70.4 per cent and represents 27,000 people who have not re-entered the workforce.
He noted another growing concern is where the jobs are being created. He pointed to 53,000 new jobs in Calgary, 24,000 in Edmonton and 14,000 in Lethbridge and Medicine Hat out of the 110,000 jobs created in Alberta since March 2021, while more rural locations have struggled to rebound.
“They’re having a harder time creating job generation,” said St-Arnaud. “We’re in recovery, but at some point, it might require more thinking in how we can help those regions economically.”