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Central Alberta jobless rate surges in March

The local jobless rate surged 1.5 percentage points in March, according to Statistics Canada’s latest figures.

Unemployment in the Red Deer region was estimated at 5.9 per cent last month, up from 4.4 per cent in February and 5.4 per cent in March 2012. The number was the highest of Alberta’s eight regions, with Calgary next at 5.1 per cent, followed by Lethbridge-Medicine Hat (4.8 per cent), Edmonton (4.4 per cent), Banff-Jasper-Rocky Mountain House (4.3 per cent), Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake and Athabasca-Grande Prairie (tied at 4.1 per cent), and Camrose-Drumheller (2.8 per cent).

The provincial average for March was 4.8 per cent, up from 4.5 per cent in February but an improvement from 5.2 per cent in March 2012. The unemployment rate for the Red Deer region has been climbing since December, when it was 3.7 per cent.

Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education officials have in the past attributed a rise in local unemployment at this time of the year to seasonal fluctuations in the oil and gas sector. They’ve also pointed out that the surveys upon which Statistics Canada’s numbers are based use a relatively small sample size and may not be indicative of long-term trends.

The national unemployment rate for March was 7.2 per cent, up 0.2 percentage points from February. Alberta’s figure was the second lowest among the provinces, trailing only Saskatchewan’s 3.9 per cent.

An Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education release noted that Alberta’s labour force decreased by 4,500 people during the month, while employment fell by 11,300 positions. Full-time employment decreased by 3,600 and part-time employment by 7,600.

 
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