​Alberta job market buoyed by jump in self-employment numbers

Whether pushed into it by the economic downturn or simply pursuing opportunities regardless of the recession, the number of self-employed Albertans jumped by 16,700 in December, according to Statistics Canada.

Roughly 17 per cent of all workers in the province were self-employed in December

According to Statistics Canada, the number of self-employed people in Alberta jumped in December by its largest increase since the end of 2010. (CBC)

Alberta's recent spike in self-employment figures is a good sign that the entrepreneurial spirit is still alive in this economy, according to a Calgary-based economist.

The province saw a 4.5 per cent jump last month in the number of self-employed people, according to the latest Labour Force Survey—the largest monthly increase since December 2010. 

"It's an indicator that suggests at least some Albertans are finding entrepreneurial opportunities, whereas if self employment positions were down and employee positions were down, that's the worst case scenario," said Rob Roach with ATB Financial. 

The December jump represents an increase of 4.5 per cent, the largest monthly bump since December 2010. (Statistics Canada)

In contrast, Alberta shed about 2,700 employee positions in December, a drop of 1.1 per cent from the month previous.

"It doesn't solve the problem, but it is a sign that at least there is some optimism out there and entrepreneurialism hasn't been completely squashed," Roach said.

The total number of self-employed Albertans was 383,800 in December, representing roughly 17 per cent of all workers in the province. 

The Labour Force Survey does not track reasons people become self-employed or their earnings, and Roach was unable to comment on the quality of these new positions or whether they are replacing jobs lost in layoffs. 

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