Retail in Fort McMurray census area continues 10-month loss as unemployment drops slightly

June unemployment for the Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake census region was 5.5 per cent, down slightly from 5.7 per cent in May.

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The number of retail workers in the census region covering Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo has plummeted after peaking in September 2023, according to data from Statistics Canada released Friday. Last month’s data for retail was the worst month for retail since January 2023.

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The sector lost 4,100 workers between September and June, while accommodations and food services has lost 400 jobs between June and the same period last year. The sector covering the oilsands has lost 1,400 workers between June and the same period last year.

The sector that has seen the most growth in the census region is construction which in June gained 2,300 workers year-over-year. Educational services followed, with 1,600 new jobs during the same period. Catholic and public school leaders in Fort McMurray say schools are crowded and understaffed, despite the growth.

June unemployment for the Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake census region was 5.5 per cent, down slightly from 5.7 per cent in May. Employment rose to 69.7 per cent from May’s 68.6 per cent. Employment in June 2023 was 70.3 per cent and unemployment was 4.7 per cent. Unemployment in the last 12 months peaked in August at six per cent.

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The participation rate—which measures how much of the population is working or actively looking for work—rose slighty to 73.8 per cent in June. The rate was 72.8 per cent in May and 73.7 per cent in June 2023.

The labour force added 1,400 positions in June from May, and grew by 2,500 positions from June 2023. The region gained 900 full-time jobs and 600 part-time jobs in June, and gained 300 full-time jobs and lost 1,400 part-time from June 2023. Monthly gains and losses by industry in June were:

  • The sector marked “other” gained 700 jobs.
  • Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing services gained 300 jobs.
  • Construction gained 300 jobs
  • Public administration gained 200 jobs.
  • Professional, scientific and technical services gained 200 jobs.
  • Business, building and other support services gained 200 jobs.
  • The sector covering the oilsands gained 200 positions.
  • Information, culture and recreation gained 100 jobs.
  • Accommodations and food services gained 100 jobs.
  • Transportation and warehousing showed no changes from May.
  • Health care and social services showed no changes from May.
  • Educational services showed no changes from May.
  • Retail lost 500 jobs.

Across Alberta, unemployment saw little change in June as it dropped slightly to 7.1 per cent in June from 7.2 per cent in May. 

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