Calgary's jobless rate highest in country at 9%

The unemployment rate in Calgary is the highest of any city in Canada for the second straight month, with almost one in 10 people in the labour force looking for a job, according to Statistics Canada.

Unemployment figures highest seen in Calgary in 21st century

Almost 89,000 people in Calgary were looking for work in August, according to a separate table using non-seasonally-adjusted data. (Reuters)

The unemployment rate in Calgary is the highest of any city in Canada for the second straight month, with almost one in 10 people in the labour force looking for a job, according to Statistics Canada.

From July to August, the unemployment rate climbed from 8.6 per cent in the wider metropolitan Calgary area to nine per cent, the highest level recorded so far this century in the city. 

In December 2009, in the wake of the global financial crisis, the jobless rate in Calgary peaked at 7.5 per cent. 

In the Edmonton area, the rate climbed to eight per cent from 7.7 per cent, the federal agency said in a release on Friday.

Statistics Canada uses a three-month moving average for its metropolitan area labour force survey tables.

Almost 89,000 people in the Calgary area were looking for work in August, according to a separate table using non-seasonally-adjusted data. In Edmonton, there were almost 70,000 job seekers.

Alberta-wide the unemployment rate dipped from 8.6 per cent in July to 8.4 per cent in August. There are more than 214,000 members of the labour force looking for a job.

'It is a bit rough out there'

Todd Hirsch, chief economist at ATB Financial, says the unemployment rate could climb even higher in Calgary this fall with the price for a barrel of oil remaining in the $40 to $50 range.

"I don't think we're going to see a quick snapback or a bounce sort of effect. I think we're going to kind of gradually drift to the bottom over the coming months and then very gradually see improvements next year," he said.

Ali Aboudaya was at a job fair hosted by Kal Tire in Calgary Friday that attracted more than 100 applicants.

He says he has been out of work for about 10 months, despite having a master's degree in computer engineering. 

"You know, my priority is to get something in my field, that's the highest priority, but if there's no chance, you have to go with anything," he said. 

19-year-old Alfred Sonido was also  at the fair.

"I've been job hunting for a week or two, got a few interviews. Hoping one of them calls, maybe this one, you never know," he said.  "It is a bit rough out there. I'm not the only one looking for a job."

Nationally, the job market rebounded in August, gaining back much of the ground lost in July with the creation of 26,200 net new jobs compared with a loss of 31,200 in the previous month.

However, even with the increase in the number of jobs, the unemployment rate crept up to 7.0 per cent compared with 6.9 per cent in July as more people entered the labour force and started looking for work.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said Alberta's unemployment rate rose from 8.1 per cent in July to 8.3 per cent in August. In fact, the rate dipped from 8.6 per cent to 8.4 per cent.
    Sep 09, 2016 10:21 AM MT

With files from The Canadian Press