MLA Mark Smith

MLA Mark Smith

MLA Mark Smith: Jobs, jobs, jobs

Jobs, jobs, jobs.

That is what Albertans were seeing when they looked at January’s Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada that showed Alberta created 7,000 net new jobs in January, while much of the country saw significant losses.

The report shows Alberta continued to lead Canada with an employment rate of 64.5 per cent and a declining unemployment rate. Alberta is one of only five provinces to see such growth and one of only four provinces to see a drop in its unemployment rate.

This data followed a strong year for Alberta that saw nearly 130,000 net new jobs created and our unemployment rate drop to its lowest since before the pandemic began. While modest, January’s numbers show a continuation of those trends. Year over year, Alberta’s unemployment rate has gone from 10.8 per cent in January of last year to 7.2 per cent last month.

Our people are going back to work. The share of those ages 25 to 54 with jobs – the “prime age employment rate” – exceeded to approximately 85 per cent in January – the highest rate we’ve seen in seven years.

The January labour numbers also showed very strong numbers for female labour participation. The labour force participation rate for women ages 25 to 54 is now approximately 85 per cent – the highest rate in the history of our province. That is amazing news for our economy.

As the pandemic wanes, Alberta’s economic recovery continues to show strong momentum. This is a far cry from when the Notley NDP lost 200,000 jobs with no pandemic. Alberta is starting to look like its old self again as our oilpatch roars and our people go back to work. As many have said, Alberta is starting to get its “swagger back”.

Our economy is also continuing to experience strong economic diversification, and I am confident we will continue to see growth in our province as word spreads that Alberta is a business and entrepreneur-friendly jurisdiction with a high quality of life and low cost of living.

Last year, we saw several record-breaking investments in our province, and we are looking forward to even more investment in 2022. The most recent reports show increases in retail sales, restaurant sales, wholesale trade and oil production. Further, the province saw building permits increase by 30 per cent over the past year.

The pandemic has been challenging for so many Albertans, but we will soon be back to normal, at which point our economy will really take-off. I am very excited about the outlook for our province. If we can produce such strong numbers with a pandemic weighing on us, imagine what we will do when we are back to normal. Alberta is coming back, and I am very much looking forward to the days ahead.

Thank you, as always, for your strength and fortitude. I look forward to providing you with more positive updates soon about jobs and Alberta’s economic recovery soon.

— Mark Smith, MLA, Drayton Valley-Devon