Alberta economy recovers 17,000 jobs in February, StatsCan reports

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Alberta's unemployment rate fell 0.8 of a percentage point to 9.9 per cent, the lowest it's been since March 2020.  (Mike Blake/Reuters - image credit)
Alberta's unemployment rate fell 0.8 of a percentage point to 9.9 per cent, the lowest it's been since March 2020. (Mike Blake/Reuters - image credit)

Alberta's unemployment rate improved slightly last month with the addition of about 17,000 new jobs, according to Statistics Canada.

The unemployment rate fell 0.8 of a percentage point to 9.9 per cent, the lowest it has been since March 2020.

"Most of the overall employment increase was in accommodation and food services and coincided with the easing of restrictions on restaurants, cafés and bars," the agency said in a release.

Calgary's unemployment rate is unchanged at 10.6 per cent, the same level as it was in January.

Calgary Economic Development notes that the city's jobless rate was 7.2 per cent in February 2020, the last month before the COVID-19 shutdowns.

The unemployment rate reached 15.6 per cent by June, the highest among major urban centres in Canada, before dropping to its current rate of 10.6 per cent.

The numbers indicate that Calgary still has a bumpy road ahead, says Calgary Economic Development CEO Mary Moran.

"It's been an incredibly difficult year since the pandemic began and the fact that we continue to see double-digit unemployment shows just how hard Calgary has been impacted by COVID-19 and the restructuring of the energy industry," she said in a release.

"However, with widespread vaccinations on the horizon we are cautiously optimistic that this will help spur growth in our community's employment."

Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer says it's encouraging that Alberta's unemployment rate is at its lowest level in a year.

"This comes after the Conference Board of Canada and BMO projected this week that Alberta will lead Canada in economic growth. It's not time to pop champagne corks, but this is hopefully the beginning of a bounce-back for Alberta's economy and job market," he said in a release.

Nationally, 259,000 jobs were added in February, erasing most of the job losses in the previous two months during tighter pandemic restrictions, Statistics Canada said.

The unemployment rate dropped from 9.4 per cent to 8.2 per cent, the lowest rate since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared.

The national increase in employment is the biggest since September and handily exceeded analysts' expectations of 75,000 added jobs and an unemployment rate of 9.2 per cent.