Calgary's jobless rate continues to climb


16,600 jobs vanish over past year

Information technology professional Dana Hauser has been out of work since March.

Information technology professional Dana Hauser has been out of work since March.

Photograph by: Dean Bicknell, Calgary Herald, Calgary Herald

Just days after Talisman Energy cut jobs in the oilpatch, Statistics Canada reported that Calgary's unemployment rate continues to rise.

A year ago it was 3.7 per cent. Last month, it jumped to seven per cent, from 6.9 per cent in October, the federal agency reported Friday.

Although the number of those employed in Calgary rose by 500 from October to November, overall employment remains down by 16,600 between November 2008 and November this year.

In the city, unemployment rose by 1,400 in November from October and it's up by 25,300 year over year.

Among the casualties of the past year has been 39-year-old Dana Hauser, a professional in the information technology and services sector, who has been out of work since March.

"There's no jobs out there, at least not the type that can pay the bills," said Hauser, who has worked with major corporations.

He was recruited straight out of university in 1994.

"I've never looked for work in my entire life. I've always been very successful," he said.

"When it comes to the fact that Talisman is laying off, that's not good," said Hauser. "When Suncor acquired Petro-Canada, you know all about the thousands of layoffs there. That's not good . . . I'm just a regular guy who's trying to make his way through life and is having a hard time finding work."

According to Statistics Canada, in Alberta, unemployment dropped by 0.1 percentage points in November to 7.4 per cent from the previous month. In November 2008, the unemployment rate for the province was 3.5 per cent.

Statistics Canada said employment in Alberta rose by 12,800 in November, the largest monthly increase in the province since October 2008, but on a year-over-year basis employment is down by 51,600.

"Since March 2009, employment in the province has edged down by 7,000, a much smaller loss than the 48,000 observed during the five months following the peak of October 2008," said the federal agency.

Although overall unemployment numbers dropped by 2,000 from October to November, they have increased by 85,000 from November 2008 to November 2009.

While Alberta's overall employment situation did improve in November, virtually all of the gains were in part-time positions, said Todd Hirsch, senior economist with ATB Financial in Calgary.

"Those jobs are better than no jobs at all, but if full-time work is preferred, it may put a crimp on some household budgets," he said.

"While the surge in employment last month is certainly welcome news, it does little to suggest the jobs market is on a solid footing yet. Jobs data lag general economic trends, and they are often subject to large fluctuations month-to-month. Several consecutive months of gains in full-time employment would give more compelling evidence that Alberta's labour market is growing strongly once again."

Nationally, Statistics Canada said employment rose by 79,000 across the country in November, bringing the national unemployment rate down 0.1 percentage points to 8.5 per cent. Despite November's gain, employment was 321,000 below the peak of October 2008.

Full-time employment increased by 39,000 in November, the third consecutive monthly increase. Part-time employment also rose in November (by 40,000 jobs), following two months of declines.

Millan Mulraine, economics strategist with TD Securities, said the Statistics Canada information for November for the country is "an inexplicably strong report, and points to a very strong pickup in Canadian labour market activity in November."

"However, we consider this pace of job growth to be unsustainable, and believe that it is inconsistent with the current pace of economic recovery in Canada," he said.

Benjamin Reitzes, economist with BMO Capital Markets, said the solid November report offsets the prior month's disappointing drop.

"The average 18,000 gain over the past two months probably best characterizes the state of Canada's job market, and points to an economy emerging from recession," he said.

Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at CIBC World Markets, said it's clear people are getting back to work in impressive numbers in an economy "that is now decidedly on the mend."


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Information technology professional Dana Hauser has been out of work since March.

Information technology professional Dana Hauser has been out of work since March.

Photograph by: Dean Bicknell, Calgary Herald, Calgary Herald


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