Workers seeking shelter from the recent economic storm might have done well to avoid the Red Deer region.
This area had unemployment rates of 4.2 per cent in 2008 and 7.3 per cent in 2009 — both second-highest among Alberta’s eight economic regions.
Only the Athabasca-Grande Prairie-Peace River area had higher jobless rates those two years, at 4.5 and 7.9 per cent respectively.
These statistics are contained in the provincial government’s 2009 Alberta regional labour market review, which was issued on Tuesday.
The annual report said 4,600 people were unemployed in the Red Deer region in 2008, with this figure jumping to 8,200 last year.
Conversely, 104,600 were employed here in 2008, a number that declined to 103,800 in 2009.
Charles Strachey, a regional communications manager with Alberta Employment and Immigration, said the Red Deer region’s relatively high unemployment rate reflects the area’s high concentration of goods-producing industries — which were hit hardest by the recession.
“Agriculture dropped 16 per cent, forestry and energy dropped 18 per cent, and manufacturing dropped 20 per cent,” he pointed out.
The provincial review noted that employment in goods-producing industries in the Red Deer region fell by 4,400 in 2009, while 3,600 jobs were created among services-producing industries the same year.
“We went from one of the lowest unemployment rates to one of the highest, basically because we have a strong goods-producing sector,” said Strachey.
Another factor was the influx of people into the Red Deer region, he said.
“Our labour force increased by 2.6 per cent last year.
“The fact of the matter is, people moved here looking for work.”
The labour market review noted that Alberta’s unemployment rate last year was 6.6 per cent, as compared with the Canadian average of 8.3 per cent. Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with rates of 4.8 and 5.2 per cent respectively, were the only provinces to rank ahead of Alberta.
However, Alberta’s employment rate (69.4 per cent) and participation rate (74.3 per cent) were the highest in the country, and its labour force grew by 39,700 between 2008 and 2009.