Jobless rate drop tops in province

The local unemployment rate tumbled nearly 1.5 percentage points in July — the biggest drop in the province — according to Statistics Canada figures issued by Alberta Employment and Immigration on Friday.

The local unemployment rate tumbled nearly 1.5 percentage points in July — the biggest drop in the province — according to Statistics Canada figures issued by Alberta Employment and Immigration on Friday.

The department reported that the unadjusted unemployment rate for the Red Deer region last month was 5.6 per cent, as compared with seven per cent in June and 8.4 per cent in May. Last July, the jobless rate here was 7.4 per cent.

After recording the highest unemployment rate among Alberta’s eight regions in May, the Red Deer area now has the fourth lowest, behind Camrose-Drumheller (3.8 per cent), and Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake and Banff-Jasper-Rocky Mountain House (both at 4.9 per cent).

The Edmonton region had the highest jobless figure in the province last month (7.1 per cent), followed by the Calgary region (6.8 per cent), Lethbridge-Medicine Hat (6.9 per cent) and Athabasca-Grande Prairie (6.5 per cent).

Six of the regions had lower unemployment rates in July than in the preceding month, and the provincial rate — adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations — declined to 6.3 per cent from 6.7 per cent. That figure was the lowest for Alberta since April 2009.

Alberta Employment and Immigration noted that 8,800 more people in Alberta were employed in July than in June, with the construction industry and the finance, real estate and leasing sector accounting for the greatest job growth.

However, the Alberta Federation of Labour pointed out in a news release that full-time jobs in Alberta actually decreased by about 13,000 from June to July. The creation of 21,700 part-time positions during this period accounted for the positive number.

The federation is calling on the province to increase stimulus spending to boost the economy.

Nationally, the unemployment rate in July was eight per cent — up 0.1 percentage points over the previous month. Saskatchewan and Manitoba led the provinces at 5.6 and 5.1 per cent respectively, with Alberta third.