Alberta's unemployment rate rose to 7.5 per cent in March, the highest level since 1996, according to figures released Friday by Statistics Canada.

The rate climbed 0.6 percentage points from February. The federal agency attributed the increase to a higher number of people entering the work force — an increase of 9,700 in Alberta.

"The main reason for what we're seeing is the fact that we are still not fully recovered from recession," said Thomas Lukaszuk, Alberta's minister of employment and immigration.

The number of jobs hasn't gone down in Alberta, Lukaszuk said, but the number of people looking for work has gone up.

"Alberta still has that reputation of being a beacon of economic wealth and there are other Canadians who are unemployed in other parts of Canada coming to Alberta and looking for work in Alberta."

In Edmonton, the unemployment rate rose to 7.3 per cent in March from 6.8 per cent in February. Calgary's rate saw a slight increase in March, rising to 7.2 per cent from the February level of 7.1 per cent.

The national unemployment rate remained at February's level of 8.2 per cent.