Red Deer’s unemployment rate continued to trend downwards in the first month of 2021, but that statistic may not tell the whole story.
“The unemployment rate as a percentage dropped, but overall there are fewer people working,” said Reg Warkentin, policy and advocacy manager at the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce.
“Compared to the December report, there are 1,400 fewer people working in the Red Deer region and compared to January a year ago, there are 8,100 fewer people working.
“Basically the reason the unemployment rate as a percentage is lower is because fewer people are looking for work. People are giving up, they’re employment insurance has run out.”
Warkentin said seeing an overall loss in employment is “distressing” and “disappointing.”
“Given what’s going on, it’s not overly surprising,” he said.
“Relating it back to the impact of the health restrictions, I think the longer this goes on, the more people are going to be out of work and the more businesses will close.”
Red Deer’s unemployment rate in January was 9.1 per cent, which was 0.7 percentage points lower than December 2020, according to information released by Statistics Canada Friday. The unemployment rate in January 2020 was 7.9 per cent.
The province’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.7 per cent this past January, according to the latest Labour Force Survey, which was released Friday. This is a decrease of 0.4 percentage points from December and an increase of 3.3 percentage points from January 2020.
Alberta’s unemployment rate was the second-highest in Canada in the first month of 2021, behind only Newfoundland and Labrador’s 12.8 per cent. The national rate was 9.4 per cent in January, which was up 0.6 percentage points from the previous month.
“The unemployment rate decreased because employment increased by 20,800 and the labour force increased by 14,000 people from the previous month,” the Labour Force Survey’s highlight package said.
“Full-time employment decreased by 300 while part-time employment increased by 21,100 over the same period.”
Employment increased in Alberta for the first time since October in January, said Statistics Canada – there were more people working in construction, while employment held steady in natural resources, and fell in accommodation and food services.
Between January 2020 and January 2021, employment decreased by 79,600. The number of unemployed Albertans increased by 80,800 over the same period.