While more than 20,000 Albertans found work last month, Statistics Canada's latest employment report shows that oil town Calgary, with a jobless rate of 9.1 percent, has the greatest proportion of unemployed of any major Canadian city, closely followed by Edmonton at 8.8 percent.

Province-wide, Alberta, with a seasonally adjusted jobless rate of 8.4 percent, has the fourth-highest unemployment rate in Canada, much of it due to weak oil prices and two years of layoffs in Alberta’s oilsands.

On a brighter note, Statistics Canada says Alberta recorded the month’s largest job growth overall, adding 20,700 full-time jobs during March.

Of these gains, about 7,100 were in money-related fields: finance, insurance, real estate and leasing. Retail and wholesale positions were next, followed by manufacturing, the Lethbridge Herald reported.

Forestry and mining, along with oil and gas, suffered seasonal job losses. Central Alberta communities seemed hardest hit, with a 9.9 percent jobless rate in the Drumheller-Camrose region and 9.5 percent in Red Deer.

Alberta labour analysts claim the unemployment rate in the province failed to drop because nearly 25,000 men and women joined or rejoined the labour force during the month.

“Overall, this is just another piece of evidence that the economy has broken out of its two-year lull,” according to Douglas Porter, chief economist for BMO, quoted in the Lethbridge Herald.

There are still signs of weakness, he noted, but added that “the positives definitely outweigh the negatives – we’ve now had solid job gains in seven out of the last eight months.”

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