The unemployment rate in western Alberta jumped more than half a percentage point last month. Statistics Canada says the economic region that stretches from Banff to Peace River ended 2018 at a rate of 5.2 per cent.

That’s up from 4.6 per cent from November 2018 but down from a year earlier when the rate was 6 per cent. The region now has the fourth highest rate of all seven economic regions in Alberta.

The province’s overall rate increased by just 0.1 per cent in December to 6.4 per cent. It was 7 per cent in December 2017.

Meanwhile, Canada’s unemployment rate is starting 2019 status quo. Stats Can reports the jobless rate stayed at 5.6 per cent in December after dropping down the previous month.

Overall, Canada’s job market went up by about 0.9 per cent with 163,000 new jobs in 2018. Wage growth across the nation was small, with the average salary only pushing ahead by 1.49 per cent.