ALBERTA

Alberta Unemployment Rate To Beat National Average For 1st Time Since 1988: RBC

12/08/2015 02:58 EST | Updated 12/08/2015 03:59 EST

Alberta's unemployment rate is predicted to rise to an average 6.9 per cent in 2016, reaching levels not seen in almost three decades, according to a new report.

"Private-sector hiring has fallen sharply year to date in November 2015 with further weakness expected," reads the RBC Economic Outlook released Tuesday. RBC noted that while the public sector has picked up some slack, its pace is unsustainable, so overall employment is set to decline next year.

The report described the situation as "a bust … without an ensuing boom."

RBC forecasted that employment will dip back down to an average of 5.7 per cent in 2017.

'Termination Tuesdays'

Fears of layoffs have many Albertans on edge, with employees of some Calgary companies coining the term "Termination Tuesday."

"Now people are freaking out all weekend and if they dodge the bullet on Monday, on Tuesday if nothing happens they relax as the week goes on. It's that palpable; that's why I say this time it's very different," Calgary outplacement transition counsellor Ross Gilker told CBC News.

"It's very uneasy,'' Stephen Scott said in an interview with The Canadian Press. He lost his engineering job at Cenovus Energy as part of an October wave of layoffs. "There are probably going to be more job cuts. People are still kind of living scared.''

Group layoffs in Alberta recently surpassed 18,000 people, and a record number of Albertans — 58,000 in September — are claiming EI benefits.

Poor hiring climate

RBC's findings were echoed in survey results released Tuesday by Manpower Employment, which found that both Calgary and Edmonton should expect a hiring slump for the first quarter of 2016.

Randy Upright, CEO of Manpower’s Alberta region, told the Edmonton Journal that it's the first time in recent history that Edmonton's hiring outlook has dipped into negative figures.

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