Red Deer unemployment up, but so is labour force

Red Deer’s unemployment rate swelled to eight per cent according to new numbers from Statistics Canada.

While provincially the statistics, released Friday by Statistics Canada, showed improvement dropping to 8.5 per cent in December from 9 per cent in November, Red Deer’s numbers weren’t so rosy.

In November, Red Deer had a 7.6 per cent unemployment rate, then in December it increased to eight per cent.

“It’s a little disappointing to see the unemployment rate dip, but we can’t expect the economic recovery to be without it’s bumps,” said Reg Warkentin, Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce policy and advocacy manager in an email.

“Our position is still that our economy is on the right track and that 2017 will be a year of economic improvement and growth. It is not going to be an overnight all of a sudden we are booming again kind of thing, but a slow and steady progression.”

Compared to this same time last year, Red Deer’s unemployment also shows an increase, from 6.2 per cent in December 2015 to eight per cent in December 2016.

But that number doesn’t tell the whole story of jobs in Red Deer, employment is up over the same time frame as the labour force participation rate increase from 70.1 per cent to 71.2 per cent.

The numbers may show an increased unemployment rate, but they also show an increase in the labour force and an increase in people actively seeking employment from on year ago.

“If you want to look at the bright side of the StatsCan release, there are more people employed now than there was a year ago and it was only July that the unemployment rate peaked at 10 per cent,” Warkentin said.

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