Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ouch.... very ouch

Statcan released the October employment numbers Friday, and they they were fugly. Employment was down right across the country, and Alberta was one of the biggest losers. So, lets dive right in and start with the ever so high profile unemployment rate.

Alberta - Unemployment Rate
Unemployment in Alberta went up to 7.5% in October, up from 7.1% in September. That month-over-month rise wasn't as high as the other prairie provinces, but that is at least partially the result the labour force shrinking by 6,400, as the eligible population evidently continued to grow.

Bear in mind all these numbers have been massaged and modelled to within an inch of uselessness, but they're the best we have. In any case, we can see from the graph we're at a level not seen since the mid-90's, and sharing a trajectory eerily similar to the big recession in the 80's.

Alberta - Full Time Employment Rate
I'm not a big fan of the unemployment rate, as it can be skewed, like by the seemingly arbitrary drop in labour force last month. It also counts part- and full-time jobs equally, which I don't think is necessarily reflective as losing the latter for the sake of the former would typically not be deemed favourable.

Thus I derived my own little measure, dividing the number of those employed full-time, by the total eligible population (basically those 15 years of age and older). By this measure we're sitting at 56%, a drop of about 5% in the last year, and the lowest the rate has been since 2000. Again, this measure also shares a trajectory very similar to that of the 80's recession.

Alberta - Full Time Employment Year-over-year
Now we'll look at the year-over-year change in full-time jobs. In the last 12 months the province has lost just shy of 90,000 full-time positions. This is the deepest drop ever, but remember that the population is significantly larger today then in '83, so proportionally we're not as bad off, yet anyway.

We can also see how good we had it from 2006-to-2008, when full-time jobs were coming on board at a record clip, topping out at about 140,000 at one point. Should have done an average/median for this one, but we'll save something for next month. It's also been requested to compare employment levels to real estate prices, so we may do that then too, or maybe even earlier if the spirit moves me.

Enjoy your weekend guys and gals!