Alberta may have gained thousands of jobs in January but two economists warn the province is not bucking the global economic downturn.
Alberta gained 3,300 jobs in January, the same month a total of 129,000 jobs were shed across the country, according to numbers released Friday by Statistics Canada.
The province's gains were all part-time jobs and "come on the heels of significant drops in the last two months of 2008," according to an analysis by ATB Financial. Alberta has lost 12,800 jobs over the last three months.
"While Alberta did gain a few jobs in January, it would be wrong to conclude that Alberta is bucking the dismal global economic trend," says the report by economists Todd Hirsch and Dan Sumner.
"Without question, Alberta's economy is slowing and the labour market is weakening. But, with an unemployment rate of only 4.4 per cent, the jobs market in the province remains among the best in North America."
Despite the job growth, Alberta's unemployment rate climbed from 4.2 per cent in December because more people were looking for work. Hirsch and Sumner say job seekers are likely coming to Alberta from other provinces.
Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia also saw job growth last month. Saskatchewan was the only province where the unemployment rate fell last month.
Unemployed 'still looking'
Stories of layoffs and long job searches are becoming more common in once red-hot Alberta.
Edmonton resident Tyler Hansen was laid off from his truck driving job five days ago.
"[I'm] just hearing how a lot of people are having a hard time getting a job," he said. "I've heard stories about people looking for a job since last November and they're still looking. So it's tough."
At the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary, Travis Ouchie holds workshops on job-search strategies. He said his sessions have been packed this year, unlike in the past.
"They are concerned and they have asked, 'What are my employment prospects when I get out of school?' And as much as I'd love to pull out the crystal ball and tell them what their future is, I don't know either."
Student John Subero, who is in his last year of civil engineering technology, said he has heard about the layoffs in the construction industry.
"My concern is getting a job after I graduate," he said.