From craggy mountains to flat grasslands, seas of trees to the mysterious hoodoos, Alberta is a land of extremes. The same holds true for its economic growth. Alberta does not hold the record for the biggest swings in annual GDP. That honour goes to Newfoundland and Labrador, with a drop in real GDP of 10.1 per cent in 2009 and an increase of 16.3 per cent in 2002. Alberta’s largest drop was in 2009 (-5.5 per cent) with 1988 and 1993 tied for the largest annual increase (+7.8 per cent).
Compared to the national average, the highs tend to be higher in Alberta while the lows often happen at unique times. For example, Alberta’s economy contracted in 1986 while the rest of the country continued to grow. More recently, Alberta—along with the other major oil producing provinces of Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador—was in recession in 2015 and 2016 while the other provinces posted gains in their GDP.
Overall, the highs have outdone the lows with Alberta’s average GDP growth since 1982 leading the country at 2.9 per cent. The next two closest provinces are BC and Ontario with average growth rates of 2.6 per cent. Alberta’s GDP is forecast to return to growth in 2017 and will likely surpass the national average once again.