It turns out that construction, health care, and retail—not oil and gas—are the main drivers of the Alberta economy, according to a University of Calgary economist quoted last week by CBC.
Only 7% of Albertans worked directly in oil and gas, Trevor Tombe told the national broadcaster. That still represented 175,000 jobs, but the total was well back of construction, with 256,000 positions, health care with 241,000, retail with 234,000, and professional, scientific, and technical services with 184,000.
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“We have a fairly diverse work force, the most diverse in the country in terms of how evenly employment shares are spread across sectors,” Tombe said, notwithstanding the drumbeat of concern about fossil fuel layoffs. “A lot of the bad news that people focus on is concentrated on that one sector, and they neglect that a lot of other sectors are hiring.”
Tombe added that the diversity in Alberta’s economy is protecting the province from the worst effects of crashing oil prices. “Even now, in the economy as a whole, the unemployment rate is below the national average,” he said. “The number of new job vacancies relative to the number of workers who are unemployed is better than the national average.”