Indigenous people have growing share of AB workforce

The unemployment for the Indigenous population is almost double the 6.7 per cent rate for the non-Indigenous population

The proportion of Indigenous people that make up Alberta’s labour force has been growing and they have higher average weekly earnings than similar groups anywhere else in the country, reports ATB.

A report released by ATB Financial’s Economics & Research Team says  Indigenous Albertans made up 4.7 per cent of the provincial labour force in 2019 compared to 3.9 per cent in 2007, when the data series began. 

Citing new data from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, ATB says the number of jobs held by the Indigenous population grew by 3.3 per cent in 2019 compared to 0.5 per cent for jobs held by the non-Indigenous population.

 “The unemployment rate remains higher among the Indigenous population, averaging 11.2 per cent last year compared to 6.7 per cent for the non-Indigenous population. The unemployment rate peaked during the last recession, hitting 13.8 per cent in 2016. The rate improved somewhat in 2017 and 2018, but started to creep up again last year,” says ATB in its daily economic update The Owl.

It says the lowest Indigenous unemployment rate for 2019 was in British Columbia at 7.7 per cent. The highest was in Saskatchewan at 13.3 per cent.

“When it comes to pay, the average weekly wage of Indigenous employees in Alberta ($1,112.05) is 6.1 per cent lower than that of non-Indigenous employees ($1,183.92). Despite this, Indigenous workers in Alberta have higher average weekly earnings than both Indigenous and non-Indigenous workers elsewhere in the country,” says the report.

“While there is still a need to close the gap in the unemployment rate, the growth of the Indigenous labour force and the relatively small gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous wages bode well for the economy.”

Mario Toneguzzi is a business reporter in Calgary.

© Calgary’s Business

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