Red Deer region’s unemployment dropped sharply in July, according to Alberta Labour Force Statistics.
The unemployment rate fell to 5.4 per cent last month from 6.9 per cent in June — by far the biggest month-over-month drop among the province’s seven economic regions.
It is also a huge turnaround from a year ago when unemployment sat at a province-leading 10.2 per cent.
“It must be the uptick in the energy industry,” said Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce CEO Scott Robinson.
The oilfield services sector has long been a key cog in the city and region’s economic machine and the collapse in world oil prices and subsequent energy industry slump was keenly felt locally. For the past several years, employment has often lagged behind other parts of the province as a result.
As prices have rebounded, employment has been given a long-awaited boost.
“Companies are still starting to invest cautiously,” said Robinson, adding he does not expect to see a repeat of the 2006-07 boom, when companies poured huge amounts into infrastructure.
Construction is also picking up and the agricultural industry is also doing well, which also means more jobs.
The hospitality industry has also stepped up recruiting to fill the many positions available. As pandemic-related wage subsidy programs expire more people have likely been prompted to get back into the workforce, he said.
The provincial unemployment rate is 4.8 per cent, down from 4.9 per cent in June and 8.5 per cent a year ago.
Lethbridge-Medicine Hat had the lowest unemployment at 3.8 per cent, followed by Camrose-Drumheller at 4.9 per cent, Calgary at 5.1 per cent and Edmonton at 5.2 per cent. Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake, Banff-Jasper-Rocky Mountain House and Athabasca-Grande Prairie-Peace River and Red Deer were all at 5.4.
Nationally, Alberta’s unemployment rate was fifth lowest among the 10 provinces and slightly lower than the national average of 4.9 per cent. Manitoba had the lowest unemployment rate in the country last month at 3.5 per cent followed by Saskatchewan (four per cent), Quebec (4.1), B.C. (4.7), Alberta (4.8), Ontario (5.3), P.E.I. (5.7), Nova Scotia (5.9), New Brunswick (7.1) and Newfoundland (10.2).
“July’s job numbers demonstrate that Alberta’s economy continues to remain strong and provide diverse economic opportunities for every Albertan,” Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer in a statement.
“In July, our unemployment rate dropped to 4.8 per cent, lower than the national average for the first time since 2015. An additional 15,000 full-time jobs is positive news.
“Both Edmonton and Calgary had strong months, with Edmonton seeing more than 3,000 new jobs and Calgary seeing more than 12,000. Both of those cities saw their unemployment numbers drop convincingly to 5.1 and 5.0 per cent, respectively,” said Schweitzer.
“Economic indicators also show that Alberta’s economy continues to move forward. Alberta is seeing record exports and sales growth across industries. Additionally, housing starts are up 20 per cent in the first half of the year, the highest increase since 2015.
“We also continue to see more Albertans establish their own businesses. The number of businesses that were incorporated in Alberta has reached record levels, with 26,412 incorporations in the first half of 2022.”