September unemployment hits two-year low locally


Unemployment in the census region covering Fort McMurray and the oilsands dropped to a two-year low last month when it hit levels unseen since late 2015.

According to data from Statistics Canada released Friday, the September unemployment rate in the Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake region dropped to 7.3 per cent, the same rate last seen in October 2015. September’s data represents a 0.4 per cent drop in unemployment from August.

Unemployment in the region has continued falling since January, largely due to the sudden increase in construction jobs in Fort McMurray following the May 2016 wildfire.

Last year’s wildfire has also made year-to-year comparisons in Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake impossible, as Statistics Canada suspended surveys in the census area immediately after the wildfire. Normal operations resumed in October 2016.

However, the number of construction jobs in September remained unchanged from August with 9,800 positions.

The number of people in the census area’s labour force also remained unchanged from August, as did the number of part-time jobs.

However, there were 200 new full-time positions added to the local economy and the employment rate continued rising.

September saw a 0.3 per cent increase in employment to 72.3 per cent, bumping it past the previous high of 72.1 per cent last recorded in November 2015.

Natural resources jobs in the region continued falling, after 100 positions in September were lost. Since reaching a high of 22,200 positions in April, 1,100 jobs in the sector have been lost.

Retail and wholesale jobs recorded an increase of 100 positions, while 200 positions were added to the transportation and warehousing sector.

Across Alberta, unemployment fell from 8.1 per cent to 7.9 per cent. Nationally, unemployment stayed at a nine-year low of 6.2 per cent.

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