Alberta’s unemployment rate climbs to 6.8% to start 2019

Daniel Fowler
February 10, 2019

However, the number of people working also declined as people left the workforce.

Nationally, the unemployment rate increased slightly to 5.8 per cent, up from 5.6 per cent in December 2018. "That blew past expectations for a modest 5,000 gain", said Royce Mendes, an economist with CIBC Economics.

"On a year-over-year basis, the number of private sector employees rose by 293,000 (+2.5 per cent), while the number of public sector employees grew by 62,000 (+1.7 per cent)".

The government organization released the monthly report for January 2019, showing Medicine Hat's unemployment rate hit 7.7 per cent, up from 6.4 per cent in December 2018.

It's better, he said, to look at the three-month and six-month trends, although he also described those results as solid in recent months.

"Overall, it's been a good day for readings on the Canadian economy". In fact, 2018 was B.C.'s highest annual wage growth in the past 10 years. It was 6.4 per cent in Toronto.

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"It might catch your eye that you have this massive print in youth employment, but the actual story is that youth employment over the past year is just flat; it was reversing some of the losses we've seen recently", said Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC World Markets.

She said the struggles of energy-producing provinces, which began with the late-2014 oil slump, have been a big factor that has dragged down national wage-growth numbers. The central bank stayed on the sidelines last month after five hikes since July 2017, and most analysts expect no action.

Kelowna boasts the province's lowest unemployment rate, dipping two ticks last month to 3.1 per cent.

The job growth was led by young workers with those between ages 15 and 24 was up 53,000 last month and split between men (+27,000) and women (+26,000).

This came despite a net increase of 1,900 jobs from December to January because the labour force - which includes people looking for work - swelled by 4,000.

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