In June, Alberta's unemployment rate edged up slightly, from 6.6% to 6.7%. However, the more disturbing picture is in the loss of full-time employment. Alberta dropped 9,600 full-time jobs between May and June 2010.
"Alberta is clearly still feeling the impacts of the recession - unnecessarily," says Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour. "Alberta was one of the only jurisdictions in the industrialized world to refuse to invest in economic stimulus. The result is we are lagging behind in recovery, especially where it counts the most, which is full-time employment," says McGowan.
"Even business leaders know our economy is still fragile," he says. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business reported this week that confidence levels among owners of Alberta's small and medium-sized business fell almost three points and said: "Unfortunately, business owners in several key sectors of Alberta's economy, including agriculture, construction and hospitality, continue to maintain the lowest levels of confidence."
Youth unemployment (15-24) remains stubbornly high at 11.7%, and aboriginal off-reserve unemployment remains at 15%, unchanged from a year ago.
In Budget 2010, the government of Alberta cut training programs by $23 million, mostly for youth and aboriginal people (see backgrounder).
Alberta's ongoing jobs crisis is further illustrated by bulging social assistance caseloads. Since 2008, social assistance caseloads have gone up by 50% (see backgrounder) to over 40,000 cases. According to the government of Alberta, the province has not seen income support caseloads this high since 1997.
"Unemployed Albertans are exhausting their EI benefits, and they have no other options. This government is creating a social crisis by going against all available economic wisdom - cutting spending when they should be investing, cutting training programs when they should be placing a premium on job growth," concludes McGowan.
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour, 780-218-9888
Alberta's Jobs, Employment Training and Social Crisis
Employment Training Programs in Alberta, 2009-2010
Source: Alberta Employment and Immigration Budget Estimates By Department, Budget 2010
|Employment Program||2009 Forecast (in millions)||2010 Budget Estimates (in millions)||% Cut
|Career Development Services
|Basic Skills/Academic Upgrading
|Summer Temporary Employment
|Aboriginal Development Partnerships
Alberta Social Assistance Caseloads, 2002-2010
Source: Alberta Office of Statistics, Income Support Caseloads, Released June 30, 2010