Labour Market Highlights

The Labour Market Highlights section offers a quick snapshot of the Wood Buffalo labour market.

This snapshot gives you a high-level understanding of regional employment, unemployment and participation rates. All data is adjusted according to Stats Canada seasons.

Alberta Employment Trends


Employment – December 2016 0.3% (monthly change)


Unemployment - December 2016 -0.5% (monthly change)


December 2016 (monthly change)

Latest numbers from this region, Friday January 6, 2017.

Note: As a result of the wildfire affecting northern Alberta, LFS data for the census agglomeration of Wood Buffalo were not collected from May to July 2016.


The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is among the fastest-growing places nation-wide over the past decade. With an official population growth of 9.2% since 2011, Wood Buffalo also has over 43,000 people residing in work camps in nearby oil fields. This rapidly growing community is home to the world’s largest industrial development and one of the world’s largest oil reserves.

The following represents a quick snapshot of the Wood Buffalo labour market.

Profile of the Workforce

The region’s largest industry on an employment basis is oil and gas exploration and production, as the region accounts for over half of the province’s total crude oil output and over one-quarter of total employment in the region is in the oil and gas sector. Other growing driver industries in Wood Buffalo include construction, health care, education, retail trade and accommodation and food services.

Wood Buffalo is also home to one of the youngest labour populations in the country with almost half of the population possessing a post-secondary degree, diploma or trades certificate.

For more information, please see ‘The Changing Profile of Alberta’s Labour Force’ for more information on the Wood Buffalo region.

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In 2016, the region of Wood Buffalo’s labour participation rate was at 76.1%, the highest among the seven regions of Alberta.

Approximately 81,800 people are employed in the region with a labour force of 90,100 people. While the recent steep drop in oil prices has mostly impacted natural resources and trades-related occupations, Wood Buffalo continues to hire highly skilled and in-demand positions in these industries while growth continues to increase in other industries, such as health care, public administration and accommodation and food services.

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With a steep drop in oil prices worldwide and the 2016 wildfire consuming Fort McMurray, unemployment rates increased slightly in 2016 and currently sit at 9.2% for the Wood Buffalo region. This drop in employment saw job losses in goods-producing industries (i.e. oil, gas and mining, construction and manufacturing) while other industries such as educational services, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing and retail trade saw increased employment levels.

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While Wood Buffalo residents do pay more than the average Albertan or Canadian for necessities such as housing and rent, the average resident also enjoys incomes 103% higher than the national average. This means Wood Buffalo residents have increased spending power and enjoy incomes 95% higher than the national average!

For more information on average wages in Wood Buffalo by industry, please visit the Wages & Salaries section of the website.

Labour Market Outlook

The Alberta economy is expected to begin economic recovery in 2017 based on improved commodity prices and more job openings due to the replacement of retiring workers.

For more information on the occupational demand outlook in Wood Buffalo visit Alberta Works.

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