Alberta unemployment rises to 8.6% in July, highest rate since 1994

The unemployment rate in Alberta has hit its highest level since September 1994, at 8.6 per cent in July, Statistics Canada says.

Uptick reflects more people looking for jobs, Statistics Canada says

Alberta's jobless rate rose to 8.6% in July, Statistics Canada says. (Associated Press)

The unemployment rate in Alberta has hit its highest level since September 1994, at 8.6 per cent in July, Statistics Canada says.

The July numbers were released on Friday in the federal agency's monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS).

Over the past year, 104,000 full-time jobs were lost in Alberta. Factoring in full- and part-time job losses, the figure shrinks to 49,000.

Since July 2015, Alberta's unemployment rate has risen 2.4 percentage points.

In Calgary, the unemployment rate of 8.6 per cent was the worst among 33 Canadian metropolitan areas surveyed.

Edmonton's unemployment rate of 7.7 per cent was the sixth highest.

Economist Todd Hirsch of ATB Financial said that although Alberta shed jobs for the fourth consecutive month, the number was "negligible" and the increase in the unemployment rate was really caused by 17,600 more people entering the workforce. Statistics Canada reported the province lost 10,600 full-time jobs and gained 9,100 part-time jobs in July compared with June.

Nationally, Canada's economy lost about 31,000 jobs in July. Full-time employment fell by 71,000, offset by a gain of 40,000 part-time jobs.

That was the biggest one-month drop in five years, putting the national unemployment rate at 6.9 per cent.

Economists had expected Canada's economy would create about 10,000 jobs.

Fort McMurray wildfire disrupted data collection 

Statistics Canada says the mass evacuation of Fort McMurray during the May wildfire prevented the agency from collecting data for that region.

As a result, separate estimates for the economic region of Wood Buffalo–Cold Lake won't be published for June or July, the federal agency says.

The missing data for Wood Buffalo were replaced with substituted values taken from similar respondents in surrounding areas.

"The population of Wood Buffalo represents two per cent of the population of Alberta. Therefore, the impact of this interruption in data collection is minimal on provincial estimates and negligible on national estimates," the agency said in a release.

"The decision to resume collection for the LFS in Fort McMurray will be taken in collaboration with Alberta provincial and local governments," the release said. 

With files from The Canadian Press