Edmonton shed some jobs in September, ever so slightly, as new numbers were released Friday from Statistics Canada. The chief economist for the City of Edmonton however thinks the unemployment situation has bottomed out, because people continue to flock to metro Edmonton looking for work as they see the prospects of finding work more encouraging here than anywhere else.
“We’re still seeing the labour force working population grow,” John Rose said in an interview. “It’s up by about just less than two per cent, which is quite respectable growth. But we are seeing slowdown in inter-provincial migration as our unemployment rate is now well above the national average and people are looking more to places like Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia for employment opportunities.
Rose is encouraged that in the coming months, government projects from both the feds and the province will create new construction jobs. Those will compensate for private sector construction that is drying up.
The real story he said is how private sector investment in new projects is drying up. “I’m keeping a very close eye on the construction sector and I am concerned we’re going to see very soft conditions in that sector over the 12 months in 2017.”
“We’ve seen a real pull back in permitting for non-residential construction, in commercial, and in industrial and that would imply that private investment in buildings and machinery and equipment is going to slow down in 2017 and hence the slower pace of construction overall. As well we’ve seen a real sharp pull back on housing starts. That’s across the province but here in Edmonton as well.”
One figure to watch is a population increase, which has been constant. “We continue to see very strong international migration into Alberta and into Edmonton,” Rose said. “And we’re seeing what we call intra-provincial migration. That is people moving from other parts of Alberta to Edmonton because our unemployment rate is down to 7.7 per cent compared to 8.5 per cent for the province as a whole. Relative to Alberta, Edmonton still provides relatively good employment opportunities.”
Calgary saw employment increase however the unemployment rate is a dismal 9.5 per cent. Edmonton lost 400 jobs which Rose said is basically a flat line.