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Over in Alberta, all is not well for Spencer Bownes and his family. Both Bownes and his wife had stable jobs in the beginning of the year. They were quite happy with their two children in their Evergreen.
In just a few months, their happy family is teetering on the edge of the foreclosure of their home, as the banks continuously demand the repayment of their debts. Since he was laid off his job in February, he and his family have been struggling to make ends meet and repay their debts.
“We’re going to be renting a house in the interim,” Bownes told the Calgary Sun. “It could be 10 years before we fix our credit. We’re just taking it one day at a time. We’re trying to rebuild in this new world.”
But the “new world” is not a nice place.
Alberta’s economic woes
Alberta finds itself amidst the longest post-war recession – one of the worst in the history of the province. And one of the outcomes of the recession is staggering unemployment.
According to the July figures released by Statistics Canada, at 8.6 percent, unemployment rates in the province have hit their highest levels in almost 22 years. July was a particularly testing month for many Albertans as full-time workers were hit by the biggest wave of job losses in around five years. In just a month alone, the unemployment rate climbed from 7.9 to 8.6 percent.
The total number of full-time job losses this year in Alberta reached 104,000 last month, according to the report. At 8.6 percent, Calgary had the worst unemployment rate among all the metropolitan areas examined in the survey.
There seems to be a sharp increase in unemployment since the NDP government, led by Rachel Notley, was elected in 2015. The difference in the number of available jobs is apparent to the 21 year old university student Summer Kamel who says, “Last year when I would apply for two jobs, for example, and I would get at least one of them. Now I’m getting nothing out of 20 jobs.”
With the seemingly-bleak job situation in Alberta, we are forced to wonder whether things can be any worse than they appear to be. They can be, according to Doug Porter, Chief Economist at the BMO Financial Group.
Statistics Canada was unable to gather data for Fort McMurray due to the wildfires in May. The fires led to the evacuation of around 90,000 residents. And if we combine the data for the three months of May, and July, the unemployment situation could be even worse.
The rise in unemployment figures is not the only problem facing Alberta’s residents. Experts are worried about the quality of available jobs as well. According to the Chief Economist at ATB Financial, Todd Hirsch:
“That is another one of the results of the job report this morning is that it shows deterioration in the quality of jobs so Alberta in July, we lost about 10,000 full-time jobs, we gained about 9,000 part-time jobs so the difference is about 1,000, about 1,400, but it’s clear a deterioration in the quality of jobs. A lot of people in Alberta they need to be working full-time or they certainly want to be working full-time, part-time work is all they’re able to find so they’re counted as employed but they’re not fully employed.”