Stat­Can re­vi­sions show 2015 worst year for Al­berta jobs losses since 1982

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Al­berta lost more jobs last year than in any year since 1982, when the prov­ince was in the throes of a deep re­ces­sion, Sta­tis­tics Canada said Tues­day.

The govern­ment agency re­leased re­vised fig­ures show­ing that Al­berta had a net loss of 19,600 jobs in 2015, up from the 14,600 job losses it es­ti­mated in early Jan­uary.

That was much higher than the 17,200 jobs lost in 2009 and the most since 1982, when the prov­ince shed 45,000 jobs. At that time, the prov­ince was reel­ing from a re­ces­sion and the fed­er­ally-im­posed na­tional en­ergy pro­gram, end­ing the year with an un­em­ploy­ment rate of 10.3 per cent.

The fig­ures put into stark re­lief the dam­age fall­ing oil prices have left on the prov­ince’s econ­omy, which has seen mass lay­offs across the en­ergy sec­tor with an es­ti­mated 40,000 jobs lost.

At the be­gin­ning of last year, crude prices were near the US$53 mark. They closed Tues­day at US$31.45 a bar­rel.

The job loss num­bers are also a stark con­trast to 2014, when Al­berta added 63,700 po­si­tions - more than half of all jobs cre­ated in Canada that year.

“Al­berta is, in ef­fect, ground zero when it comes to ab­sorb­ing a com­mod­ity price shock,” Na­tional Bank said in a note to clients last week.

“More than any prov­ince, it will take the brunt of the ex­pected drop-off in busi­ness in­vest­ment.”

Last year saw the prov­ince’s un­em­ploy­ment rate steadily climb from 4.8 per cent to seven per cent as the an­tic­i­pated re­cov­ery in oil prices failed to ma­te­ri­al­ize.

But ATB Fi­nan­cial is fore­cast­ing that to edge up to 7.2 per cent and the econ­omy to shrink by 0.5 per cent this year.

In a re­search note pub­lished Tues­day, TD Bank said it ex­pects un­em­ploy­ment in the prov­ince head­ing to­wards 7.5 per cent by mid-year be­fore some of the oil price shock wears off in the se­cond half of the year.

“This will set the stage for a re­turn to mod­est growth — and a ta­per­ing off in the sharp up­ward trend in job­less rates — in Al­berta and Saskatchewan,” the bank said.

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