By The Globe StaffIn the winter of 2018, a team of researchers from Alberta’s oilsands industry went to the remote Alaskan town of Tlingit to explore a possible future for a potential “America’s cranes.”
A year later, the project is still underway.
The team has spent the past two years collecting data about the town’s economy, which they say is growing by around 15 per cent a year.
The Alaskans’ prosperity is a major focus of the team’s work.
“They have a lot of potential, which is a really good thing,” said the Alaskas’ first-year economist, David Tzeng, who is leading the project.
“We want to see if we can do something about it.”
The oil sands industry is booming in Alberta.
It’s expected to be worth $US15 billion ($20.6 billion) by 2020.
But that boom has led to a decline in the number of jobs in the industry, and some analysts say that will only accelerate unless there’s a big change in the way people work.
This is not just an Alberta issue, said Tim Brown, executive director of the AltaCorp Research Institute, an industry-based think-tank.
Alberta’s oil boom has also been linked to a rise in unemployment, which the federal government says has tripled since the last recession.
“It’s not just that the unemployment rate has risen,” said Brown, who was also a senior economist at the Alberta-based Bank of Canada when the recession started.
“There’s also a significant shift from work to leisure, from jobs to leisure.”
So, there’s lots of other things going on that are also contributing to the increase in unemployment.
“The boom is also linked to the global economic crisis, which has had a negative effect on jobs in Canada.
The downturn in oil prices has also hurt the industry.
And a slump in the price of oil has hurt Canada’s manufacturing sector.
The boom in oil has helped Alberta’s economy expand by more than 7 per cent since 2007.
But that growth has stalled recently, with the industry struggling to meet demand for vehicles and equipment and growing employment in non-oil sectors.”
The oil boom is creating a lot more jobs, and it’s created more than a million new jobs in Alberta, but the jobless rate is actually quite high,” said Tzenge.
Brown agrees that the downturn in the oil industry has been bad for Alberta.”
If you take the oil and gas sector, there is a big reduction in the labour force participation rate.
That means the workforce has become less active,” he said.”
You have people who are working less hours, who are not contributing to a healthy economy, and you’ve got people who have lost their jobs and are on welfare.
“The recession has also had a massive impact on the province’s tax base.
The economy has grown by about 2.5 per cent annually since the recession began.
But the unemployment rates are at their highest level since 2007, and are at a 10-year high.”
All these factors together are making Alberta’s job market less productive than it needs to be,” said John Hickey, a senior vice-president of the University of Alberta’s School of Public Policy and Management.
Brown, who works for the University’s School, said that is one reason why the province is struggling to get out of the recession.
The unemployment rate in Alberta has fallen by more like 20 per cent in the past year.
But it has risen dramatically over the past three years.
The provincial unemployment rate of 11.4 per cent is one of the highest in the country.
The rate in Ontario, where oil prices have been on the rise for years, is around 5 per cent.
But Brown said that the recession has been a factor.”
There are going to be a lot worse years ahead.””
We have to figure out ways to manage that.
There are going to be a lot worse years ahead.”
The unemployment problem in Alberta will only get worse, according to Brown.
The government is already spending billions of dollars on unemployment benefits and training programs, but that won’t help the long-term unemployed.
“When people are not able to find jobs, they become even more unemployable,” said Hickey.
Brown says that’s a problem the government is working on, but he says the problem will only become worse unless it changes.
“That’s why we’ve got to come together and do what we can to help these people find work,” he added.
The Alberta government has set aside $500 million to support the unemployed. “
But that’s what we have got to do.”
The Alberta government has set aside $500 million to support the unemployed.
It has also launched a new initiative to recruit more people into the industry as part of the job creation effort.Tzenge