Prince Albert down 1,500 jobs since pandemic hit

Latest labour force survey reveals 23,000 lost across Saskatchewan

Prince Albert has lost about 1,500 jobs since the pandemic began, the latest job data from Statistics Canada shows.

Prince Albert had an estimated 21,800 people working in February 2020, one month before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Last month, there were an estimated 20,300 people working in the city.

The latest labour force survey didn’t include an updated number of unemployed people or an updated unemployment rate. The data is based on a phone survey. Statistics Canada takes a sample and then extrapolates the results. Sometimes, a small sample size means the agency isn’t confident enough to publish results. That was the case for the most recent unemployment data in the city.

To count as unemployed, someone has to be both not working and actively looking for work. People off sick, or retired, or in school or not looking for jobs for other reasons don’t count as unemployed. Rather, they’re counted as being not part of the labour force. The number of people outside of the labour force grew from an estimated 11,600 last year to 13,100 in February 2021.

That change is reflected in both the participation rate and employment rate. Participation rate measures the percentage of a population engaged in the labour force, meaning they’re either working or looking for work. That fell from 66.6 per cent this time last year to 62.2 per cent in 2021.

The employment rate, which measures the percentage of a given population that’s working, fell from 62.3 per cent to 58.5 per cent.

Provincially, Saskatchewan lost 23,000 jobs over the last three months, with the majority of job losses coming in full-time employment.

The unemployment rate fell by an entire percentage point and the province’s labour force shrunk by 18,300 people.

Month-over-month, Saskatchewan gained 2,300 jobs from January to February of this year, driven by gains in full-time work. At the same time, the labour force increased significantly, leading to a spike in the unemployment rate even as more people went to work.

An estimated 592,800 people are employed in the province, with 43,100 looking for work. The province’s participation rate is 66.7 per cent, the unemployment rate is 7.3 per cent and the employment rate is 61.8 per cent.

Nationally, employment increased by 1.4 per cent in February, after falling over the previous two months.

Compared with 12 months earlier, there were 599,000 fewer people employed and 406,000 more working less than half their usual hours. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, fell 1.2 percentage points to 8.2 per cent in February, the lowest since last March. The number of long-term unemployed, people looking for work or on temporary layoff for 27 weeks or more, fell by 49,000 from a record high of 512,000 in January