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Unemployed Albertans are waiting longer to find new work

Last Updated Nov 28, 2018 at 10:06 pm MDT

Summary

Average duration of unemployment is at 20 weeks around Alberta

The duration is nearly triple what it was ten years ago, before the financial crisis

Lengthy unemployment makes it harder to find a job, contributes to other social ills

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — A new report sheds some light on unemployment challenges in Alberta, as people are remaining out of work for longer.

Done through the University of Calgary School of Public Policy, the report says unemployed workers are waiting an average of 20 weeks before getting a new job.

This is nearly triple the level it was at ten years ago, before the financial crisis hit, but a decrease from a maximum of 25 weeks in June 2017.

Ron Kneebone co-authored the report, and said the oil price crash is contributing to this increase, with many workers unable to find a job in the same sector. To make it even more unfortunate, the longer the wait time, the harder it is to get back to work.

“Because you just look less attractive in the marketplace. Why would I hire you, who has been unemployed for 25 weeks, when I can hire this other person who is just out of school or just been unemployed for two weeks?”

It then creates wider problems around the province, starting with ballooning social assistance caseloads.

“Like increased use of food banks, increased calls for domestic violence,” added Kneebone.

While it has levelled out at 20 weeks right now, another unfortunate fact is that trends show it likely will not improve very much.

“After the financial crisis, we saw the duration increase very quickly. Then, over the next 15 months it came down a little bit. So we saw it again go up following the fall in oil prices and it’s now been 15 months after that. After the financial crisis, the amount it fell after 15 months was it — it didn’t fall any further than that. And that’s why I’m guessing that, with now 15 months after the increase due to the oil price fall, that this is it. This is as good as it’s going to get,” said Kneebone.

So, while the economy is improving slightly through Alberta, this is a problem that cannot be ignored.

“Government’s tend to talk about the good news, which is great,” said Kneebone. “But again, you need to look behind those headline numbers, and look at what’s happening to the number of people who are being unemployed for a long term, the number of people on social assistance — when you look at both those sets of numbers, they have gone up dramatically. That’s something the government really needs to be focused on and helping these people.”