Edmonton - Officially, Alberta's unemployment rate dropped for July, but those overall figures mask the fact that Alberta is shedding full-time jobs and mostly adding part-time employment, says Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
Statistics Canada reports today that Alberta's unemployment rate has dropped to 6.3 per cent, but our employment growth has been the slowest in Canada, at 1.2 per cent. Even more troubling are the figures showing Alberta shed 13,000 full-time jobs in just a month. All employment gains in our province were due to part-time job growth, where we added 22,000 positions.
"Yesterday, Premier Stelmach and Premier Campbell from B.C. argued that the time has come to end federal stimulus spending and rely on the private sector to lead the recovery," said McGowan, who is in Winnipeg attending meetings parallel to the annual Premiers' conference.
"But these dismal jobs numbers prove it would be irresponsible for the federal government to follow their advice. You can't talk about an economic recovery in this country until we have a jobs recovery - and clearly that isn't happening."
Since May 2010, when the rest of the country began to show signs of economic recovery, Alberta dropped 22,000 full-time jobs and added 37,000 part-time jobs.
Today's employment numbers show only part of Alberta's economic picture, and it's not a rosy one. On July 30, the Department of Finance released its latest Monthly Economic Review. The review summarized the latest national economic indicators and showed:
- Alberta posted a 54-per-cent growth in business bankruptcies, the second-highest in Canada (April 2009-April 2010);
- Alberta's Employment Insurance (EI) beneficiaries were up 40 per cent, by far the biggest increase in Canada. The second-highest province saw an increase in EI beneficiaries of only 15 per cent. (April 2009-April 2010);
- Alberta posted only a 1.5-per-cent increase in wages and salaries, the smallest increase in Canada (March 2009-March 2010);
- Alberta showed only a 5.9-per-cent increase in retail trade, the second-lowest increase among the provinces (April 2009-April 2010);
- Alberta posted a 2.2-per-cent decrease in wholesale trade, the second-worst wholesale trade numbers in Canada, and one of only two provinces to post negative growth (April 2009-April 2010); and
- Alberta has the second-lowest farm cash receipts in Canada, ahead of only PEI.
Given the current economic realities, McGowan said Premier Stelmach should stop preaching austerity and cutback. In fact, Alberta should be talking about ramping up public spending, not rolling it back.
"Alberta is the only province that didn't ramp up its own spending to help its citizens weather the recession," says McGowan. "That goes a long way towards explaining why Alberta has had a harder time with recovery than other provinces. To now be calling for an end to federal stimulus just doesn't make sense. The latest numbers prove that the private sector is not yet ready to fill the gap in terms job creation."
The complete July Monthly Economic Review, which contains economic commentary, statistics and indicators on the overall economy, labour market, price indices for household business sectors can be found here:
Media Contact: Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour (780) 218-9888