The number of people considered to be self-employed in Alberta has taken a sharp decline in the past year.
Numbers gathered by ATB Financial’s Economics & Research Team show that the self-employment in the province fell from 401,300 in 2018 to 362,600 in 2019 which is a drop of 9.6 per cent.
ATB, in its daily economic update The Owl, said self-employment numbers refer to those who indicate that self-employment is their “main job” and do not include those who engage in self-employment in addition to their main job as an employee.
The report said the number of employee positions in the province increased by 2.6 per cent, rising to 1,980,400 jobs from 1,929,400 (+51,000) over the same period.
“Changes in self-employment are difficult to interpret because we do not have a good sense of why people start and stop working for themselves. A rise in self-employment could signal confidence in the economy or it could mean people are forced into working for themselves due to a lack of employee positions,” explained ATB.
“What’s more, past studies point in different directions and are not necessarily a good gauge of what is happening in the present. We do know self-employment in Alberta has been rising recently, posting seasonally adjusted month-over-month gains in November, December and January.”
The report said self-employment in Canada rose by 1.5 per cent last year, with its proportion of total employment staying roughly the same at 15.3 per cent.
“Even though we can’t say with confidence what the rise and fall in self-employment means, we can say that thousands of Albertans opt in and out of working for themselves on a monthly and yearly basis, and that the total number of self-employed workers is currently down from where it was two years ago,” added ATB.
Mario Toneguzzi is a business reporter in Calgary.
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