Red Deer region’s unemployment rate remained the lowest in the province last month, according to Statistics Canada.
Unemployment in the region stood at 4.4 per cent — unchanged from December, when the region also had the lowest unemployment.
The provincial average was 6.8 per cent for January — down from seven per cent in January, says StatsCan’s monthly Alberta Labour Force Statistics report.
The next lowest unemployment rate among the province’s seven economic regions was 4.8 per cent, in the region that includes Banff, Jasper, Rocky Mountain House, Athabasca, Grande Prairie and Peace River. Camrose-Drumheller had the highest rate at 7.8 per cent.
The others were Lethbridge-Medicine Hat (5.4 per cent), Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake (5.6 per cent), Edmonton (6.2 per cent) and Calgary (6.9 per cent).
Canada’s national unemployment rate for January was 5.8 per cent, down slightly from 5.9 per cent in January.
Alberta’s unemployment rate puts it in the middle of the pack among the country’s 10 provinces. B.C. had the lowest rate at 4.7 per cent and Newfoundland the highest at 11.4 per cent.
The others were Quebec (5.4 per cent), Saskatchewan (5.5 per cent), Manitoba (5.5 per cent), Ontario (5.7 per cent), Nova Scotia (6.9 per cent), New Brunswick (8.2 per cent) and Prince Edward Island (9.9 per cent).
The United Conservative Party was critical of the Alberta government’s jobs record.
UCP finance critic Drew Barnes said the numbers show 16,000 jobs — many of them full time — were lost last month. Nearly 170,000 Albertans are unemployed, a number that does not include those who have given up on looking for work.
The unemployment rate for youth is at 11.8 per cent, said Barnes.
“It’s clear yet again that the NDP government’s high-tax, high-debt policies have failed Albertans, driving job-creating investment out of the province,” said Barnes.
The UCP pointed to a recent study from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy as an indication of the difficulties job hunters have in Alberta.
In October 2018, an unemployed person was out of work for an average of almost 21 weeks, compared with a little over seven weeks in 2008.