Latest Employment Insurance numbers show continued tough trend in Alberta

New numbers from Statistics Canada show some tough employment trends late last year in Alberta.

Employment experts predict modest job growth coming soon in Calgary

Alberta cities saw a significant bump in the number people receiving EI benefits in November — Calgary saw a 5.1 per cent rise, while Edmonton saw 4.9 per cent. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The latest numbers from Statistics Canada showed nearly 97,000 Albertans received Employment Insurance last November.

Across Canada, the numbers remained relatively unchanged at 574,500 people, but Alberta's figures showed a 3.5 per cent bump over the previous month, and a 57 per cent increase over the same period in 2015. 

Todd Hirsch, chief economist at ATB Financial, says it's a record number.

"July was actually a little bit higher, but that was due to the forest fires in Fort McMurray and the sudden layoffs we saw that summer," Hirsch said.

Most of those EI recipients were in Alberta's cities.

In Calgary, the November EI number was just over 32,000 people. Edmonton saw nearly a five per cent increase in the number of people receiving EI benefits.

Sharlene Massie with About Staffing says her company is still receiving a flood of resumes amid a slowdown in job postings.

Massie said she's expecting modest job growth in the months ahead, including an increase in temp work as many companies continue to remain cautious.

"The employers that are hiring are saying, 'I want to pay less, I need to save my pennies, I need to save money,'" she said.

Hirsch predicts Alberta's employment rate won't pick up until the second half of this year.

"It's a frightening picture looking backward, but I think in 2017, we can anticipate it being slightly better," he said.

With files from Dave Gilson