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More people left Alberta for other provinces in the third quarter of 2009 than came to the province from elsewhere in Canada, show figures from Statistics Canada.

It was the first time since 1994 that Alberta posted a third quarter loss in interprovincial migration.

However, the province’s population still grew by 0.44 per cent in the third quarter because of international immigration. The population is now 3.7 million.

The number of Albertans receiving employment insurance (EI) benefits increased by 4.1 per cent or 2,900 people in October. This increased the total number of beneficiaries to 74,640, which is three times higher than levels recorded in October 2008.

Between October 2008 and October 2009 Alberta has seen the number of recipients rise by 56,400, which represents the largest percentage year-over-year increase of any province.

Since 2008, the number of beneficiaries has more than doubled in every metropolitan area in Alberta. The number of beneficiaries in Edmonton rose from 4,200 to 14,700 during that time.

The steep increases coincided with year-over-year employment losses in manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade, professional, scientific and technical services, construction and natural resources.

Retail spending in Alberta remained flat in October while growing across Canada, according to Statistics Canada figures released last week.

Sales in Alberta rose 0.1 per cent to $4.63 billion between September and October while nationally sales rose 0.8 per cent. This Canada-wide increase was largely led by higher vehicle sales.

Albertans’ spending level for the month was nearly nine per cent lower than October 2008.

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