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Last month the Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a very interesting Policy Brief with a provocative title: Canada’s Labour Market Sputtered in 2013The Chamber is right, 2013 was not a banner year for job creation in Canada. But what about for Edmonton? I thought it might be interesting to go through the major findings of the Chamber’s report and see if they were also true for Edmonton’s labour market.

I used the same definitions and data as the Chamber’s report, with one exception: the report uses seasonally adjusted data, which aren’t available at a detailed level for cities. So the caveat here is that we’re comparing seasonally adjusted Canadian data to unadjusted Edmonton data.

With that out of the way, let’s go down the list of findings. The quoted text is from the report and describes Canada’s labour market performance in 2013, and the text below each quote is how Edmonton’s labour market compared.

Employment growth for 2013 as a whole was a mere 0.6 per cent, the slowest pace recorded since 2009.

Edmonton’s net job growth in 2013 was 3.9%, significantly better than the Canadian average. And while we had stronger growth in 2011 (5.2%), the past year was an improvement over 2012 (3.4%) and the second-fastest pace recorded since 2009.

Employment gains were concentrated among men and women aged 55 and over.

Not true in Edmonton. Employment for men and women age 25 to 54 grew by 6.9% in 2013. However, they were the only group to see job gains last year, as employment fell in both the 15 to 24 and 55+ age groups.

95 per cent of the net jobs created were in part-time positions.

Edmonton was the exact opposite: nearly all (98%) of our 27,100 net new jobs in 2013 were full-time positions.

All the net jobs created were in the services sector.

True for Edmonton, but maybe a little misleading. When most people read ‘service sector’, they probably think of low-wage jobs in the retail and food service industries. Edmonton did gain jobs in these industries, but the service sector also includes higher-paying industries like finance, education, and healthcare which all added jobs in 2013.

More than 86,000 net new positions were created in one industry.

Here the author of the report is referring to the Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services industry. This finding is not true for Edmonton, as this industry recorded no change in net jobs in 2013. Overall, Edmonton’s employment gains were fairly even across industries.

The full report goes into much more detail and paints a more nuanced picture of Canada’s job growth in 2013. But based on the broad summary findings, while Canada’s labour market may have sputtered in 2013, Edmonton’s did not.





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