Times are tough in Alberta and to be sure, we’ve piled it on heavy when it comes to cataloguing the long list of pitiable outcomes that have accompanied crude’s steep slide.
The province is at the center of Canada’s dying oil patch and as crude extended its seemingly endless decline last year, Alberta saw oil and gas investment plunge by a third. That’s bad news for authorities who count on resources for 30% of provincial revenues.
Rig activity fell by half in the first seven months of 2015 and as the job losses mounted, the sorrow deepened - literally. Suicide rates jumped by 30% and in Calgary commercial break-ins almost doubled from a year earlier, while bank robberies were up 65% and home invasions increased 52% (read more here).
Meanwhile, food bank usage spiked as those who used to be donors found themselves depending on the free meals for subsistence.
And speaking of food, prices for fresh fruit and vegetables are seeing double-digit inflation thanks to the plunging loonie.
All in all, a very bad situation indeed and on Tuesday we learned that the picture was actually materially worse than an initial round of statistics led us to believe. Related: 9 Billion Barrels Of Crude At Risk In Massive Nigerian Oil Shakeup
“Statscan’s annual revisions of its national Labour Force Survey data ratcheted up Alberta’s net job losses last year to 19,600, from the 14,600 the statistical agency originally reported in its final 2015 survey released in early January,” The Globe And Mail reports, adding that the losses “exceed the 17,000 jobs Alberta shed in the Great Recession in 2009.”
In fact, 2015 was the worst year for job losses in the province since 1982. Related: China Invests $4.6 Billion In Killing Coal, But Is It Enough?
By the end of last year, Alberta’s unemployment rate had risen to 7.1% from just 4.8% at the end of 2014. As The Globe And Mail goes on to note, that’s the highest level in two decades. And it’s projected to get worse. Alberta could see unemployment rise to 7.5% in H1.
Most of the positions lost were breadwinner jobs. The province shed 51,000 full-time positions for the year, up notably from Statcan's initial read of 44,000.
"The latest figures are also in stark contrast to 2014, when Alberta added 63,7000 positions, more than half of all jobs created in Canada that year," The Calgary Sun adds, underscore just how sharp the reversal of fortunes has been.
"Alberta is, in effect, ground zero when it comes to absorbing a commodity price shock," National Bank said last week. "More than any province, it will take the brunt of the expected drop-off in business investment." Related: Currencies Under Deeper Pressure From Rout In Commodities
Right. And that means more hardship ahead for O&G sector employees like Sean O’Reilly, 46, who, until last November, was a senior manager at Enbridge Inc.
O'Reilly, who spoke to The Globe And Mail, says he's "embarrased and ashamed", but with a wife and two small children he may be forced to change career paths and move out of the province.
"Southern Ontario manufacturing looks pretty good right now," he says. "I just need one job."
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