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People attend a 2009 job fair in Calgary.

Jeff McIntosh/The Globe and Mail

Job seekers are flooding back to Alberta after a two-year lull, lured by a resurgence in the oil patch and growing hiring demands.

Alberta saw a net inflow of 5,300 people from other provinces in the first quarter of 2011 -- its highest rate of interprovincial migration since the first quarter of 2006, according to Statistics Canada preliminary population data reported Wednesday.

The province saw steady inflows of workers from other parts of Canada between 1995 and 2009, but saw outflows in 2010 for the first time in 15 years.

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That slowdown appears to have now reversed, with Alberta registering the fastest first-quarter population increase in Canada in the first quarter this year. The province's population was estimated at 3,758,200 as of April 1, Statscan reported, up 15,500 people or 0.4 per cent since Jan. 1.

Alberta's gain appears to have come from Atlantic Canada and other Prairie provinces. Newfoundland recorded a net outflow of 500 people and Nova Scotia lost 1,000 to interprovincial migration in the first quarter.

Manitoba lost 1,000 to other provinces, while Saskatchewan lost 600 people. It was the booming Prairie province's first quarterly net outflow of people to other provinces since the third quarter of 2006.

Quebec and Ontario also lost people to other provinces in the first quarter this year, but Statscan said the outflows from the country's two most populous provinces were far lower than they have been in the recent past. Quebec's loss of 900 people was the province's lowest net outflow in for a first quarter since 2006, while Ontario's outflow of 700 people was its lowest first-quarter loss of people since 2003.

British Columbia's net outflows to other provinces was near zero in the quarter, but the province had a significant net inflow of 7,000 international migrants.

On a national basis, Canada's population growth slowed in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, largely because of a 15 per cent drop in the number of immigrants entering the country.

Statscan said 49,538 immigrants entered Canada between Jan. 1 and April 1, down from 58,050 last year. Canada had a net inflow from international migration -- including both immigrants and non-permanent residents -- of 49,300 people in the first quarter, down from 61,300 in the same period of 2010.

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The country's population was estimated at 34,349,200 people as of April 1, up by 70,830 from Jan. 1, Statscan said.

Canada recorded 91,114 births, 69,614 deaths, and net international migration of 49,330 people in the first quarter.

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