Western Alberta unemployment rate drops to 4.8 per cent

The region finished 2018 with a 4.7% unemployment rate in December, when 40,300 were employed.

(StatsCan warns with unadjusted data, one can not make month-to-month comparisons since different seasonal factors influence each month).

Alberta, hit hard by the oil-price decline, shed jobs for a second-straight month and saw its jobless rate rise to 6.8 per cent, up from 6.4 per cent.

"Definitely the headline job gain was very impressive", said BMO chief economist Douglas Porter.

"On a year-over-year basis, the number of private sector employees rose by 293,000 (+2.5 per cent), while the number of public sector employees grew by 62,000 (+1.7 per cent)".

That increase - 16,000 workers - was driven by younger people, Statistics Canada said.

"Labour markets still look solid".

In Prince Albert and Northern Saskatchewan, which includes data for our region, year-over-year, the unemployment rate vaulted to 7.8 per cent from 6.7. In fact, 2018 was B.C.'s highest annual wage growth in the past 10 years.

The jobless rate, in Canada, for men 25 years of age or older was 5.2%. The Bank of Canada has expressed confidence that wage growth will pick up its pace.

In a note to clients Friday, CIBC Chief Economist Royce Mendes wrote the latest job readings were "a auto stuck on one of Canada's clogged highways: speeding up then slowing down just to speed back up again".

The Canadian dollar jumped more than a quarter of a cent in the moments after Statistics Canada announced the jobs numbers. The central bank stayed on the sidelines last month after five hikes since July 2017, and most analysts expect no action.

Canada added 30,900 full-time jobs last month and 36,000 part-time positions, the report said.

When comparing the Lethbridge-Medicine Hat region, the unemployment rate is at 5.4 per cent, up from 4.5 per cent last month, according to the province's labour force statistics.

"Volatility returned with a notable increase in employment during the month of January", he wrote.

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