By Jensen, Randy on July 23, 2020.
There was some positive momentum for the Lethbridge-Medicine Hat economic region in June, despite the continued rise in the unemployment rate.
According to the July Labour Force Update released by Economic Development Lethbridge, total unemployment was up from May, highlighted by full-time gains of 1,500 jobs (or 1.5 per cent).
More people were searching for work which triggered an increase in the local participation rate (the proportion of the population that is working or actively seeking work).
The update notes this is a sign of optimism that could suggest workers are sensing more opportunities are available as reopening the economy gathers momentum.
While the unemployment rate has increased for six consecutive months in the region, the local figure remains comparatively low as Lethbridge has the sixth-lowest unemployment rate as of June when contrasted with all 33 Census Metropolitan Areas in Canada for which data is provided, and Lethbridge has the lowest rate in Alberta.
Despite the positive observations noted in the update, there are still causes for concern as employment remains down 10.5 per cent compared with February, the number of unemployed continues to rise, and part-time employment continues to evaporate.
Employment in health care and social assistance continued to surge in the region. Jobs in the sector have increased for three consecutive months and are up by 3,200 (or 16 per cent) since February.
Construction employment was up by 1,100 (10 per cent) in June on a monthly basis, although much of the spike could be seasonally related, the update noted.
Professional, scientific and technical services, and finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing continue to fare well with local employment in those industries well above where it was prior to the onset of the pandemic.
However, manufacturing employment has been hit hard over the past two months and is down by 2,400 jobs since February. Wholesale and retail trade, and accommodation and food recorded increases in employment over the past two months at the national and provincial level, but have continued to trend lower in this region over the same time period.