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'Undeniably in a recession': Alberta’s jobless rate at highest since 1996

Canada’s jobs market unexpectedly went into reverse last month. Almost 6,000 jobs were lost – and the country’s energy heartland was hit hardest.

Alberta’s economy shed 10,000 jobs in January, helping nudge up the province’s unemployment rate to 7.4 percent --- the highest since February 1996.

And it wasn’t alone, job losses were widespread across the country, with only Ontario posting a substantial gain.

“Alberta is undeniably in a recession and has been for some time,” said Eric Lascelles, RBC Global Asset Management’s chief economist, in an interview on BNN. “It looks like it’s about on par with the financial crisis.”

The western province suffered blows to agriculture, manufacturing, construction, culture, accommodation and food services, as well as technical, scientific and business services. This comes after dismal year where the province lost nearly 20,000 positions.

Overall, Canada lost 5,700 jobs in January, missing analyst expectations for new jobs.

“This report does underscore that while the shock has certainly been the largest for oil-producing regions, the knock-on effects from the drop in capital investment in Canada's oil sands has rippled through to other industries and provinces,” Diana Petramala, economist with Toronto-Dominion Bank, said in a research note.

The oil slump has triggered more than 40,000 layoffs in the oil and gas industry.

Other resource dependent provinces also continued to suffer from weak commodities prices.

Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate edged up to 5.6 per cent. Newfoundland and Labrador remained at 14.4 per cent.

The price of oil is trading around $30 (U.S.) a barrel, down more than 70 per cent since mid-2014.

More energy-related layoffs are expected after oil giants, BP PLC and Exxon Mobil Corp., recently announced a fresh round of employment and spending reductions.

Ontario was the only province to see job growth, creating 20,000 new positions last month, according to StatsCan.

Ontario and British Columbia are the country’s two regions expecting economic growth of more than 2 per cent this year.

That has led to job seekers from Alberta to flock to those two provinces.

British Columbia’s government is holding job fairs in Alberta.

“We are working hard to recruit Alberta workers and then giving them additional skills that they need to come to B.C. and not get social assistance but to get real jobs,” B.C. Premier Christy Clark said during a visit to Ottawa this week.

Analysts polled by Bloomberg had expected 6,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate to remain at 7.1 per cent.

- With files from Shawn McCarthy in Ottawa and BNN

A quick look at January unemployment (previous month in brackets):

· Unemployment rate: 7.2 per cent (7.1)

· Employment rate: 61.2 per cent (61.2)

· Labour force participation rate: 65.9 per cent (65.9)

· Number unemployed: 1,390,300 (1,386,400)

· Number working: 18,005,200 (18,009,600)

· Youth (15-24 years) unemployment rate: 13.0 per cent (13.0)

· Men (25 plus) unemployment rate: 6.7 per cent (6.6)

· Women (25 plus) unemployment rate: 5.5 per cent (5.6)

Here's what happened provincially (previous month in brackets):

· Newfoundland and Labrador 14.4 per cent (14.4)

· Prince Edward Island 9.5 (9.8)

· Nova Scotia 8.5 (8.6)

· New Brunswick 9.3 (8.9)

· Quebec 7.6 (7.9)

· Ontario 6.7 (6.7)

· Manitoba 6.1 (5.9)

· Saskatchewan 5.6 (5.5)

· Alberta 7.4 (7.0)

· British Columbia 6.6 (6.7)

Statistics Canada also released seasonally adjusted, three-month moving average unemployment rates for major cities but cautions the figures may fluctuate widely because they are based on small statistical samples. (Previous month in brackets.)

· St. John's, N.L. 6.7 per cent (6.4)

· Halifax 6.5 (6.2)

· Moncton, N.B. 6.2 (6.2)

· Saint John, N.B. 8.3 (7.9)

· Saguenay, Que. 7.6 (7.4)

· Quebec 5.2 (4.9)

· Sherbrooke, Que. 6.6 (6.6)

· Trois-Rivieres, Que. 7.3 (7.3)

· Montreal 8.6 (8.7)

· Gatineau, Que. 6.1 (6.0)

· Ottawa 6.4 (6.3)

· Kingston, Ont. 6.3 (6.4)

· Peterborough, Ont. 6.7 (7.6)

· Oshawa, Ont. 6.4 (6.9)

· Toronto 7.1 (7.0)

· Hamilton, Ont. 6.4 (5.9)

· St. Catharines-Niagara, Ont. 8.6 (8.0)

· Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Ont. 6.5 (6.4)

· Brantford, Ont. 5.8 (4.9)

· Guelph, Ont. 4.0 (4.2)

· London, Ont. 5.8 (6.1)

· Windsor, Ont. 9.3 (9.7)

· Barrie, Ont. 6.4 (6.4)

· Sudbury, Ont. 8.6 (8.4)

· Thunder Bay, Ont. 6.5 (5.8)

· Winnipeg 6.3 (6.2)

· Regina 4.3 (4.2)

· Saskatoon 6.1 (6.4)

· Calgary 7.7 (7.0)

· Edmonton 6.5 (6.3)

· Kelowna, B.C. 7.6 (6.8)

· Abbotsford, B.C. 7.3 (7.6)

· Vancouver 5.7 (5.7)

· Victoria 5.8 (6.1)

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