Alberta lost 15,500 jobs from December to January, 14,600 of which were full-time.
The rise in the unemployment rate was attributable to an expansion in the labor force with more people seeking jobs.
It was the second month of outsized gains in the last three, though economists said mediocre wage growth and the dismal oil and gas sector would hold back any action by the central bank the next time it decides on interest rates on March 6. Private sector jobs have been fuelling employment growth in the province, with an increase of 64,800 in the past year.
The region finished 2018 with a 4.7% unemployment rate in December, when 40,300 were employed.
The biggest boost came from the number of private-sector employee positions, which climbed by 111,500 in January for the category's biggest month-to-month increase since the agency started collecting the data point in 1976. "On a trend-cycle basis, self-employment has levelled off in recent months", said StatsCan.
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Friday's Statistics Canada numbers also showed that employees worked 1.2 per cent more hours, year-over-year, compared to the 0.9 per cent reading in December. "Over the same period, there was little change in the number of self-employed workers". "That blew past expectations for a modest 5,000 gain", said Royce Mendes, an economist with CIBC Economics.
"There had been some risk going into the report that a big print was coming, given that the survey had lagged the job gains seen in the more reliable payrolls report over the past year".
Across Canada, the unemployment was for January 2019 was highest in Newfoundland and Labrador, at 11.4%.
The economy shed 32,300 goods sector positions, mostly in agriculture and construction. For last month, the rate was at 7.8%, an increase of 0.8% from December.
"That said, first quarter growth is still setting up to be somewhat weak given what we know is happening in the oil patch".