Daily Economic Comment - Alberta Job Market Inches Forward
Posted By: Todd Hirsch Senior Economist, ATB Financial Apr 5, 2012
Alberta boasted the best labour market in the country last year, creating half of all new jobs from coast to coast. In the spring of 2012, the province is still creating jobs, but at a somewhat slower pace. And in March, central Canada’s job market was playing catch-up to Alberta.
According to this morning’s Labour Force Survey, Alberta added 4,400 jobs in March. That reverses a drop in employment in February, and more than doubles the weak growth in December and January. Because of a jump in the number of people looking for work, the unemployment rate rose to 5.3% from 5.0% in February. Compared to a year ago, Alberta has seen job creation particularly strong in oil & gas (+23,200), health care and social assistance (+20,400), and construction (+20,100).
The report underscores Alberta’s healthy employment position. While the pace of job creation is slower than the spring and summer of last year, it remains positive. The overall market is well balanced at the moment—not overheating, but certainly not cooling down too much.
Nationally, the jobs market was on fire, adding a total of 82,000 jobs in March, mostly in full-time work. That’s about eight times the consensus of economists’ forecasts. This brought Canada’s overall unemploy-ment rate down 0.2 percentage points to 7.2%. Nearly all of the employment gains were in Ontario and Quebec, which may help ease fears that central Canada is slipping back into recession.
And while one month does not establish a trend, the strong national job report is already stirring speculation that the Bank of Canada could, in fact, raise interest rates sooner than late 2013.