Job gains mostly part-time: Only 200 new full-time Alberta jobs in October, out of 12,600 created

Alberta's unemployment rate edged down to 7.4 per cent in November as 12,800 people found jobs --the largest monthly increase since October 2008.

The provincial jobless rate dropped 0.1 percentage points from October, Statistics Canada said Friday.

Edmonton's jobless rate in November was 7.7 per cent, unchanged from October. Calgary's rate was seven per cent, up from 6.9 per cent the previous month.

"It's another indication of the slow but steady economic recovery," said Terry Jorden, a spokesman for Alberta Employment and Immigration.

But the good news was tempered by the reality that 12,600 of those jobs were part-time. Alberta's largest labour group hammered the provincial government on the loss of fulltime jobs and increasing prevalence of part-time work.

"If this is what a recovery looks like, then I'd really hate to see a recession," said Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan.

"Economists and pundits may claim that the recession is over. But here in Alberta, the facts on the ground tell a different story. Working people and working families are still hurting."

The number of Albertans with fulltime jobs has dropped by 83,000 since the peak of employment in October 2008, and by 75,600 since November 2008, he noted.

While Alberta's overall employment has fallen by 52,000 jobs since November 2008, the AFL said the number would be far bleaker without 24,000 more part-time jobs created in the period.

Jorden said the provincial government would prefer to have seen more full time jobs created, but it remains optimistic about long-term employment growth. "We are still in the early stages of the economic recovery," Jorden said.

"Some of these part-time positions, particularly those in construction, could become full-time when economic conditions improve."

ATB Financial senior economist Todd Hirsch said the trend to lower-paying part-time work will affect consumer spending.
"Those jobs are better than no jobs at all, but if full-time work is preferred, it may put a crimp on some household budgets," Hirsch said.

Alberta posted the third-lowest rate in the nation, behind Saskatchewan's 5.2 per cent and Manitoba's 5.3 per cent. Canada gained 79,000 jobs, inching its rate down 0.1 percentage points to 8.5 per cent.

TD Bank economist Pascal Gauthier called it, "a stunning display of unexpected strength" with job gains in every province except New Brunswick.

"Encouragingly, Alberta--which had been lagging behind the nationwide employment stabilization seen in recent months--joined the fray," Gauthier said.

"Furthermore, this was well distributed among the province's services and goods industries."

Statistics Canada noted the bleeding of jobs in Alberta has slowed since late last year.
"Since March 2009, employment in the province has edged down by 7,000, a much smaller loss than the 48,000 observed during the five months following the peak of October 2008," said the national agency.

Hirsch said it's too early to suggest Alberta's job market has found solid footing because employment statistics lag economic trends and can fluctuate month-to-month.

"Several consecutive months of gains in full-time employment would give more compelling evidence that Alberta's labour market is growing strongly once again," Hirsch said.

Alberta's gain in jobs came despite its labour force growing by 10,900 people.

Most of the province's employment gains came in construction with 5,000 jobs; accommodation and food services with 2,900 jobs; professional, scientific and technical services with 2,800; and manufacturing with 2,300.

Edmonton Journal, Sat Dec 5 2009
Byline: Bill Mah

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