Edmonton added 2,000 full-time jobs in August even as its unemployment rate climbed to 8.7 per cent, city chief economist John Rose said Friday.
The gains, which followed two consecutive months of job losses, were in sectors such as professional services, health care and energy, Rose reported in his analysis of the latest numbers from Statistics Canada's labour force survey.
Employment losses in August were concentrated in education and financial services, and largely in part-time positions, the numbers show.
Despite the new positions created, overall unemployment in the Edmonton census metropolitan area increased from 8.5 per cent in July to 8.7 per cent in August.
The increase in unemployment was due to "a growing working age population and increased participation in the labour force," Rose said in his report.
He said Edmonton's unemployment rate is not expected to drop much below 8.7 per cent for the remainder of 2017.
Alberta's unemployment rate went from 7.8 per cent in July to 8.1 per cent in August. Nationally, the unemployment rate edged down from 6.3 per cent in July to 6.2 per cent in August.
Recovery still underway, Iveson says
Mayor Don Iveson said the numbers show that "economic recovery still has a way to go" in Alberta and in Edmonton.
"Recovery remains slow without $100 a barrel oil, so it's not that surprising," Iveson said Friday.
He repeated Rose's position that Edmonton's unemployment rate reflects a growing labour force. The labour force in the Edmonton CMA was 832,900 people in August, up 17,000 from August 2016.
"Albertans, and newcomers, continue to see opportunity in Edmonton," Iveson said. "And so it's a very competitive labour market for those jobs, which are scarcer. But it's not that we're shedding employment, it's that we're adding people."
The city is "pushing hard" to spur economic growth, and those efforts include looking closely at e-commerce giant Amazon's plan to find a city to host a second headquarters, Iveson said.
As he did Thursday, Iveson again told reporters that Edmonton would be a good place for Amazon to invest, in part because of the city's strong research and technology communities.
"Who wouldn't want to bring 50,000 jobs to their metro area of one million or greater with a sizeable international airport? So, I mean, we're eligible at the first blush."
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has also expressed interest in landing Amazon's second headquarters.
"I think the province's role would be to say, 'Here's why you should pick Alberta,' " Iveson said. "And then between us and Calgary, may the best city win."