July 16th, 2019

Regional unemployment creeps up month-to-month but remains well under this time 2018

By Gillian Slade on February 9, 2019.

Workers are silhouetted as they repair the roof at the Medicine Hat Mall in this December, 2018 file photo. According to new statistics the regional unemployment rate rose slightly from last month, but remains below recent highs.--NEWS FILE PHOTO


The region’s unemployment rate rose in January but remains more than a full point lower than in early 2018.

The jobless rate in the Lethbridge-Medicine Hat Region was 5.4 per cent last month — 0.9 per cent higher than the previous month, but 1.2 per cent lower than a year ago.

The provincial unemployment rate is 6.8 per cent. That’s up from 6.4 per cent in December, but slightly down from a year ago when it was 7 per cent. It is the highest across the country except for Atlantic provinces with Newfoundland and Labrador at 11.4 per cent, PEI 9.6, Nova Scotia 6.9 and New Brunswick 8.2 per cent.

“Alberta’s current economic recovery is mirroring those of the past four decades,” said Medicine Hat MLA Bob Wanner. “All of those recoveries in the midst of low market prices of oil would often see month-to-month variations in job numbers. This was true in the 1980s, 1990s and following the 2008 downturn.”

“The more free enterprise that we can bring to Cypress-Medicine Hat the better. As renewables becomes more efficient and lower the costs, let’s see where that goes,” said Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes.

The jobless rate rose steeply in the Camrose-Drumheller region, up 2.9 per cent, but fell in both major cities. Calgary’s three-month adjusted rate was 7.3 per cent, down from 7.5 per cent in both the monthly and annual analysis.

Edmonton sat at 6.4 per cent, up slightly month over month from 6.3 per cent, and down from 7.2 per cent a year ago.

Compared with the rest of the country — Vancouver’s unemployment rate is 4.8, Toronto 6.1 and Ottawa 5.3. The national unemployment rate is 5.8 per cent.

Unemployment fell in Wood Buffalo (now at 5.6 per cent), Red Deer (4.4) and Grande Prairie (4.8).

Overall in the province, unemployed workers in January totalled 169,000, about 10,000 more than in December, but 5,000 less than a year ago.

Unemployment numbers are produced by Statistics Canada based on a labour force survey that involves telephone calls to people across the country. The questions asked include whether they are employed, are currently laid off, are looking for work and whether they are available for work.

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