Labor Market Update
Employment continues to increase. Private sector employment outpaces public sector growth in employment.
May 2022 marked a significant swing from part-time to full-time employment.
Full-time employment opportunities overtake part-time opportunities as employers commit to opening more full-time positions.
Alberta added 27,600 jobs in May driven primarily by increased service sector activity. Service sectors prompt a job surge of 21,200 in Alberta, while the goods sector increased employment by 6,300.
However, the province experienced job losses in:
Added jobs within the services sector were a mix of professional, scientific, technical transportation, warehousing, wholesale and retail trade positions. Meanwhile, food and accommodation employment is still below pre-pandemic levels.
In the goods sectors, the weak showing of jobs in manufacturing was offset by gains in utilities, agriculture and natural resources.
Signs emerge that older workers are not experiencing a similar recovery that other demographic groups in the labour market are as reskilling is required.
The trend continues away from goods-centred jobs towards more service-sector-driven employment in Alberta. This trend increases the likelihood of a skill mismatch and an uneven recovery.
The labour market participation rate remains below pre-pandemic levels, but the unemployment rate drops to 5.3%. Alberta’s job vacancy rate is 4.7%. Alberta’s population grew by 1.4% year over year. B.C.’s unemployment rate is 5.1%. Unemployment levels trend down, and vacancies remain below 5%.
Year-over-year inflation is 6.8% in Canada, 6.3% in Alberta, 5.9% in Saskatchewan and 6.7% in B.C.
In union and non-union settings, wages increased by 2.3% year over year across the province. The trend from lower-paying part-time jobs to more full-time opportunities in the province undoubtedly impacts this upward trend in wages. This contrived wage increase contrasts with Canada’s national average of a 3.9% wage increase, which is driven by heated labour market factors, including those found in B.C., Ontario and Quebec. B.C.’s trends in wages increase year over year are at 3.2%.
The negotiated settlement weighted averages in Alberta are 0.97% for 2022, 1.88% for 2023 and 1.69% for 2024.
- For construction, 2022 settlements trend to 1.06% and .82% for 2023 (with much of the industry currently in bargaining.
- For utilities, 2022 settlements average 1.11%, and 2023 averages 1.8%. For food and accommodation services, the settlements trend at 1.71% for 2022 and 2.44% for 2023.
Earnings in Alberta are up 4.2% and 4.3% in Canada, which includes the year-over-year impact of increased hours of work, overtime, other premiums and the shift from part-time to full-time positions.
Employers face significant uncertainty. Employers are reluctant to commit to structural cost increases in employment costs. Instead, they prefer to rely on more variable or temporary measures such as surge overtime as required, bonuses and lump sums. In this way, they reduce some of the upward pressure they face while hedging against risk and uncertainty in the broader economy.
Workforce Delivery is currently negotiating nineteen agreements for various companies and employers in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan for construction, utilities, and manufacturing municipality employers. In May and early June, we achieved four memoranda of settlements.
Sam Kemble, Executive Operating Officer
With People Inc.