Alberta jobless rate hits 9%, highest since 1994

The unemployment rate in Alberta reached nine per cent in November, the highest it’s been in more than two decades, while Calgary's rate edged up to 10.3 per cent, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada.

Losses in construction sector accounted for 85% of the November drop off

Alberta's jobless rate is higher than it has been for 22 years. (CBC)

The unemployment rate in Alberta reached nine per cent in November, the highest it's been in more than two decades, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada.

The number of job seekers in the province rose by 11,000 last month, while another 13,000 jobs were lost. That nudged up the unemployment rate by half a percentage point month over month, the Labour Force Survey says.

Since November 2015, Alberta's unemployment rate has skyrocketed by 30.6 per cent, representing 52,000 lost jobs, Statistics Canada says.​

Job losses in the construction sector accounted for roughly 85 per cent of the 13,000 job losses from October to November, says University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe.

He cautioned that month-to-month figures can be highly variable, and that the margin of error for provincial numbers is greater than 9,000. 

"And that margin of error gets bigger the narrower you go, so when we look at cities or when we look at industries," he said. "That being said, the trend for construction is clearly downward."

Calgary's rate still going up

Calgary's jobless rate in continuing to slowly rise, while in Edmonton the trend is in the other direction. (Trevor Tombe/@trevortombe )

In Calgary, the unemployment rate in November reached 10.3 per cent, compared to 8.6 per cent just four months earlier.

That's the highest rate among all major cities that Statistics Canada examines, a distinction Calgary has held for the past three months on record.

Alberta also continues to have among the highest overall employment rate — the percentage of adults in the workforce — at 66.9 per cent, Tombe noted.

The seemingly contradictory stat is due to Alberta's relatively young population and the fact older people in Alberta tend to keep working longer than other Canadians.

Edmonton's jobless rate dipped one tenth of a percentage point to 6.8 per cent in November.

Nationally, the jobless rate dipped in November to 6.8 per cent, as the economy created 11,000 jobs and fewer people looked for work.

The biggest job losses in Alberta from October to November were in the construction sector. (Trevor Tombe/@trevortombe )