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Women led Alberta’s economic recovery in 2018

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Female employment in Alberta is rapidly rising, as are average earnings. Today, more Alberta women in their prime working years are participating in the labour market than ever before.

In our fast-approaching election, the economy and jobs will be central issues.

Is our economy strong, or is it weak? Is the recession ongoing, or is recovery underway? Simple questions, but the answers are complex.

Overall, the economy is indeed growing and the recession is over. But not everyone experiences recovery in the same way. 

There are deep pockets of pain for some, but areas of genuine strength for others. And there’s perhaps no greater strength in Alberta’s recovery today than recent employment gains among women.

In short, Alberta women led the recovery through 2018.

That’s worth celebrating.

Gains by gender

Every month, thousands of Albertans start a new job while thousands of others lose one. There’s a constant churn of flows in and out. But by the end of 2018, over 21,000 more Albertans had jobs than one year earlier. 

For the economy as a whole, this isn’t a large gain — and it was barely above what was necessary to keep pace with population growth.

But when you split the gains by gender, the data tells a whole other story.

As I show below, roughly 23,000 more women were employed at the end of 2018 than were employed one year earlier. This more than accounts for the province’s total employment gain.

The gains for women in their prime working years, 25 to 54, were especially strong.

During the recession, we saw the share of women aged 25 to 54 with jobs fall from just over 77 per cent to a low of 75 per cent. 

But today, nearly 80 per cent of women in that group are employed — a significant increase. One has to go back to the 1990s to find an improvement in employment rates this large or this rapid.

To be clear, the economy is not a zero-sum game. Gains to one set of workers do not imply losses to another.

During the recession, job losses for men were larger than those for women, as oil and gas, construction, and so on, are male-dominated sectors. Now, during the recovery, gains elsewhere in the economy, in other sectors, are disproportionately benefiting women.

Where are the jobs?

These are broad-based gains that reflect a genuinely strong labour market. Employment in health and social services is up significantly, with nearly 23,000 more women employed there than one year ago.

But the majority of these are private-sector jobs or self-employed women operating their own businesses.

Female employment is up by 9,000 last year in business support services. Manufacturing and transport/warehousing are each employing nearly 6,000 more women than one year ago. In professional and scientific services, the number is up 3,500.

Overall, more than 90 per cent of the gains were in the private sector.

Earnings are up too. 

In 2018, the average weekly earnings for women were nearly $38 higher than in 2017 and $52 higher than in 2016.

That means women made on average about $2,700 more in 2018 compared to 2016.

Actively looking

Given such strength, more women are joining the labour force and looking for work. Many, many more.

Roughly five in six women aged 25 to 54 either have a job or are actively looking for one. This is a larger share participating in the labour market than at any point in Alberta’s history.

This matters. A lot.

Not only because these gains for women represent roughly 40,000 more individuals now searching for jobs, gaining employment, and earning income as a result, but also because it’s an important positive development in the provincial economy as a whole — and one you may not have heard of before.

It should change the way we see the recovery.

Though weak for some, the recovery is indeed strong for many others.

It’s also important because it reveals why one common indicator of recovery — the unemployment rate — shouldn’t be taken at face value.

In December, 5.8 per cent of Alberta’s prime-aged women were unemployed — barely lower than the 6.2 per cent one year earlier. But, and however counterintuitive this may sound, that isn’t a sign of weakness, and it is consistent with the strong gains displayed above.

We only count those who are looking for work as unemployed.

If more people join the labour force and begin looking, the unemployment rate naturally goes up. But that’s a good thing. I estimate that, had the participation rate for Alberta women aged 25 to 54 remained unchanged, their unemployment rate today would have been closer to an impressive 3.5 per cent — better than before the recession.

What this means for Alberta

None of this is to say Alberta’s economic situation is rosy, or that all women are seeing an improved labour market. 

The gains are larger in Edmonton than in Calgary, for example, and are exclusively among those with more than a high school diploma. Employment is down for both men and women among those with only high school education or less.

And young workers face the largest challenges.

Last March, I highlighted their difficult situation, and it hasn’t yet improved. Today, if the recession never happened, roughly 40,000 more Albertans would have a job. Young workers ages 15 to 24 account for three quarters of this.

These challenges deserve attention, of course. If we’re to have any hope of addressing them, we must understand where they are. But Alberta’s large and complex economy is not uniformly strong or weak.

It’s neither. It’s both.

Despite real challenges, there is much going well. For Alberta women in particular, recent gains are very real and worth celebrating.


This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read this editor’s blog and our FAQ.


Calgary: The Road Ahead is CBC Calgary’s special focus on our city as it passes through the crucible of the downturn: the challenges we face, and the possible solutions as we explore what kind of Calgary we want to create. Have an idea? Email us at calgarytheroadahead@cbc.ca

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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Anglais

MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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