It appears the worst of the big job losses is behind us in Alberta.
The number of Albertans affected by group layoffs last year was almost half as many as the year before.
The province’s numbers show that 9,749 employees were affected by group layoffs in 2016, a 45 per cent drop from the 17,579 laid off the year before.
Employers are required to give the government four weeks’ written notice before laying off 50 or more workers at once.
ATB Financial chief economist Todd Hirsch believes it’s a sign that the worst of the recession is over.
“Fortunately, I think we’re seeing the turnaround in energy prices — this modest rebound in prices — in the nick of time,” Hirsch said. “I know a lot of these companies would not have been able to sustain another six or twelve months with oil prices around $30.”
READ MORE: Alberta group layoffs slower to start 2016
Hirsch expects modest growth this year, but not much of a rebound in employment.
“I think rehiring in 2017 in the energy sector is going to be very, very cautious, and only the absolute minimum amount of rehiring that needs to take place,” Hirsch said. “And that’s only because we’ve seen these oil prices rebound, but they’re only around $50 or $55, but they haven’t gone back up to $80 and I really don’t expect them to.”
While Hirsch predicts fewer group layoffs in 2017, he also expects the layoffs to spread beyond the energy industry.
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“They might now start coming from those other sectors of the economy — in transportation or maybe construction or manufacturing, so they wouldn’t be categorized as oil and gas producers,” Hirsch added. “But they’ve been affected, of course, by this downtown, and we could in 2017 still see some group layoffs come as the economy is gradually returning, but it’s still very slow.”
Alberta’s unemployment rate ended 2016 at 8.5 per cent, down from 7 per cent a year earlier. (bd)