Prairies home to Canada's best labour markets: Survey

Ontario continues to languish in sixth place
||Last Updated: 09/16/2011

Alberta had the best-performing labour market in Canada between 2006 and 2010, followed by Saskatchewan and Manitoba, according to a report released by the Fraser Institute.

The performance of Alberta’s labour market also topped all American states, according to the report Measuring Labour Markets in Canada and the United States: 2011 Edition, which ranks the performance of labour markets in 10 Canadian provinces and 50 American states (based on five indicators: total employment growth, private sector employment growth, unemployment rates, duration of unemployment and labour productivity).

Alberta ranked highest overall in North America in total employment growth and employment growth in the private sector over the five-year span, as well as second overall for low duration of unemployment and sixth overall for average unemployment rate.

Saskatchewan ranked second in Canada for the second year in a row and this year surpassed Alaska to rank second overall among all provinces and states. Manitoba rose to third place in Canada after ranking fourth last year, and jumped to fourth overall (and tied with North Dakota) in North America from eighth in the last year’s report.

British Columbia rounded out the strong showing for Western Canada, slipping to fourth among the provinces after finishing third last year. B.C. remained in sixth place overall in North America, tied with Wyoming.

“The Western provinces have evolved into labour market powerhouses, not only compared to the rest of Canada but also to the United States,” said Amela Karabegović, Fraser Institute senior economist and co-author of the report.

“On the other hand, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada continue to grapple with sluggish labour markets.”

Of the remaining provinces, Quebec tied with Virginia for 12th spot overall in North America, followed by Ontario and New Brunswick in a five-way tie for 16th, Nova Scotia (tied at 21st), Newfoundland and Labrador (tied at 32nd). Prince Edward Island was the lowest-ranked province, tied for 36th overall.

Ontario continues to struggle with low private-sector employment growth, where it placed ahead of only P.E.I., and a high unemployment rate. The province ranked ahead of only Quebec in terms of the average duration of unemployment, found the Fraser Institute.

“It’s alarming that Canada’s largest province ranks near the bottom on several performance indicators,” said Karabegović .

Alaska again ranked as the top U.S. state but dropped to third overall behind Alberta and Saskatchewan. Other states in the top 10 are: North Dakota (tied at fourth overall), Wyoming (tied at sixth), South Dakota (eighth), Texas (ninth) and Utah (10th).

“In general, jurisdictions that performed well before the recession have, on average, also done well over the past five years. The top 30 performers covering the pre-recession period 2003 to 2007 also experienced much better labour market performance between 2006 and 2010, compared to jurisdictions in the bottom half of the rankings,” said Karabegović.

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