In March and April, the unemployment rate across western Alberta, including Slave Lake, High Prairie, and Peace River, increased by 3.3 per cent to 10.1.
It is almost double [1.87 times] the unemployment rate last year at the same time, which was 5.4 per cent.
The increase in unemployment coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic and the drop in oil prices.
Alberta is divided into seven economic regions, says the Alberta Labour Force Statistics [all statistics are from this source]. Slave Lake, Wabasca, High Prairie, McLennan, etc. are part of the region which is called ‘Banff – Jasper – Rocky Mountain House – Athabasca – Grande Prairie Peace River’ or Western Alberta.
The economic region starts in a narrow corridor at Alberta’s southern borders which goes north along the Rocky Mountains. It then widens and includes communities west of Calgary, Red Deer, and Edmonton. The widest part is in the north which includes the area around Athabasca and everything north and west up to the northern border with the Northwest Territories.
Within Western Alberta, the February unemployment rate was 6.8 per cent. In March, it increased to 7.1 per cent. This is an increase, but not as high as the provincial increase.
In April, Western Alberta increased to 10.1 per cent, or almost double the April 2019 unemployment rate for this region of 5.4 per cent.
Compared with other regions Western Alberta’s unemployment rate is in the middle. In February, it was the fourth highest [6.8]. Red Deer was highest [8.6] and Lethbridge-Medicine Hat lowest [4.6].
In March, it was in the same position. In April, it tied Edmonton for third highest.
In February, the unemployment rate in Alberta was 7.2 per cent. In March, it increased to 8.7 per cent and in April, to 13.4 per cent.
The provincial numbers are divided by age, gender, and industry.
Over the last five years, the Youth [15-24] group has been two to four per cent higher than the Adults [25+]. In March, male Youth had the highest unemployment rate with 21.5 per cent, up from 16.1 per cent in February. Female Youth increased to 19.6 per cent from 10.9.
Adults had much lower numbers, but from February to March women went from slightly lower to slightly higher than men. Women 7.5 per cent, from 6.1. Men 6.7 per cent from 6.4.
In April, both youth and adult women have a higher unemployment rate. The youth and adults both increased, with the adults reaching the youth numbers from April 2019. The biggest increase was for female youth with an increase of 13.1 per cent to an unemployment rate of 32.7 per cent. This is 3.7 times the April 2019 rate of 8.8 per cent.
Male youth also increased to 25.6 per cent from 21.5 per cent. This is 2.4 times the April 2019 rate of 10.6 per cent.
Adults increased by a similar amount. Adult women increased by 4.5 to 12 per cent from 7.5. This is two times the April 2019 unemployment rate of 5.9 per cent.
Adult men increased by 4.3 to 11 per cent from 6.7 per cent. Adult men group had the smallest change from last year – with April 2020 numbers 1.7 times April 2019 [6.5].