LETHBRIDGE: While the latest unemployment rate is positive on the national front, that
isn't the case locally.
Nationally, Canadian employers put 95,000 people to work in May, which
pushed the country's unemployment rate down a tenth of a point to 7.1%. The vast
majority of the jobs gain came in the full-time category and were all in the
Of the 95,000 added jobs, about 18,600 were added in Alberta but, the
provincial jobless rate still inched up to 4.8% from 4.4%.
As well, the Lethbridge Medicine Hat region, which usually has one of the
lowest jobless rates, now has the highest at 6.2%. That's up from 5.5% in April
and well above the 4.6% in May of last year.
Heather McIntosh-Rivera, Director of Business Development and Operations at
Economic Development Lethbridge, says, "What we've noticed, is that when the
government reduces spending, it inevitably has an impact on Lethbridge, as eight
of our top ten largest employers are public sector (health care, education,
agriculture research), so we do typically have an impact in the region in
regards to that".
Also, Mcintosh-Rivera, reminds us that Lethbridge is just one half of the
equation, "We did speak with Medicine Hat (officials), because as an employment
region we have to work together on trying to understand what this employment
rate means and they did indicate that spring break-up, and the amount of
moisture we've had, means there has been some impact on the oil industry
Mcintosh-Rivera admits they are surprised by this large of a bump in the
jobless rate. However, she says that moving into the summer, there's usually
growth in the hospitality and construction sectors, which should bring the rate
At 6.1%, only the Red Deer region has a similar jobless rate to
Lethbridge. The rest of the provincial regions have jobless rates that range
from a low of 3% for Camrose-Drumheller up to 4.9% for Calgary.
On the up-side, Alberta still has the second lowest jobless rate in the
country, right behind Saskatchewan.