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The Owl Archives

Browse through archived editions of The Owl from the learn section of ATB.com


Manufacturing in Alberta Part 1: The best performers

Posted on: May 23, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Alberta’s manufacturing sector has been through the ringer over the recession. From the peak of activity in the summer of 2014 to the lowest point in February of last year, the value of total manufacturing shipments in our province plunged 27 per cent.

Retail sales pause in March

Posted on: May 19, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
After a post-recession surge of spending in the second half of last year, Alberta shoppers took a break in March. According to the latest information from Statistics Canada, retail sales topped $6.63 billion that month.

Growth to pick up in 2017

Posted on: May 18, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Today, ATB Financial is releasing its latest Alberta Economic Outlook, providing insight into what may happen in the months ahead.

Manufacturing finding its mojo

Posted on: May 17, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Alberta’s manufacturing industry flexed some muscle in March. The most recent manufacturing report shows that total shipments grew to over $5.8 billion, an increase of nearly two per cent from February.

Single-owner farms still most common in Alberta

Posted on: May 16, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Old MacDonald had a farm—and if he lived in Alberta, he’d probably be the single owner and operator of it, too. That, according to the latest Census of Agriculture, is still the most common form of farm operating arrangement in our province.

Alberta’s specialty farms

Posted on: May 15, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Alberta’s agriculture sector is dominated by the big three types of operations: wheat, canola and beef. Of the more than 40,600 farms in the latest Census of Agriculture, roughly two-thirds are grains and oilseeds and cattle ranching operations.

What's going on with oil prices?

Posted on: May 12, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Oil prices did show stability over the first couple months of the year. But recently the North American benchmark price of oil (West Texas Intermediate) has fallen to around $US 47.

More new houses but will they sell?

Posted on: May 11, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
After two years of recession, it’s nice to see some economic indicators starting to signal strength. One of those indicators is housing starts.

Alberta’s cattle operations lead the country

Posted on: May 10, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Alberta farmers know that agriculture is a leading contributor to the economy. As you drive around the province, you are struck with the vastness of the geography that has been turned into valuable, productive agricultural land.

Construction activity stable in Alberta

Posted on: May 09, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
For economists tracking Alberta’s economy, one of the fears is a big drop in construction activity coming out of the recession. This is particularly true in Calgary where the burst of spending on downtown office towers may be followed by a bust.

Are full-time jobs making a comeback in Alberta?

Posted on: May 08, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
The signs of the recession have been witnessed in so many parts of Alberta’s economy, most notably in the job market. Not only has employment dropped with the price of oil, but the quality of jobs has deteriorated.

Job situation unchanged in April

Posted on: May 05, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
After the barn-burner month of March, Alberta’s labour market paused to catch its breath in April. The number of people employed in the province hardly changed (-300 jobs) and the unemployment rate fell by just half a percentage point to 7.9 per cent.

From buds to suds

Posted on: May 04, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
As The Owl reported earlier this week, beer is still Albertans’ #1 alcoholic beverage of choice. Much of the continued success of beer in our province can be attributed to the rise of the local, or craft brew scene.

Older but younger, too: Population aging in Alberta

Posted on: May 03, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
The latest batch of numbers from the 2016 Census released by Statistics Canada today highlight a longstanding trend—we are getting older. And not just each of us personally, but as a provincial population, too.

Alcohol sales not held back by poor economy

Posted on: May 02, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Last year may have been the worst recession in decades, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of Albertans when it came to enjoying a beer on the patio or a glass of Chardonnay with dinner.

2016 GDP numbers show decline

Posted on: May 01, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Many Albertans felt it. And the latest numbers confirm it. Alberta’s economy contracted another 3.8 per cent in 2016. This follows a similar decline of 3.7 per cent in 2015.

Alberta’s GDP prone to large swings

Posted on: April 28, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
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.

Earnings continue their decline

Posted on: April 27, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
One way companies can adapt to tougher economic conditions is to lower their costs, including wages. Earnings of Alberta employees have been trending negatively for nearly two years.

Retail continues to show strength

Posted on: April 26, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
From car flags to hockey jerseys, playoff fever has had—and is still having—a profound effect on Alberta retailers. While the latest retail report doesn’t capture this month’s hockey frenzy, it does suggest continued strength in Alberta’s retail sector.

Oil sands output recovers from forest fire disruption

Posted on: April 25, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Since Alberta’s oil sands operations are located in forested areas, the fires that raged through northern Alberta's forests in 2016 forced a significant shutdown of production.

Wholesale trade rises for fifth consecutive month

Posted on: April 24, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
A few indicators are suggesting Alberta’s economy is picking up steam. Labour market statistics and housing start numbers are among them, as well as wholesale activity.

Commercial construction spending in Edmonton and Calgary

Posted on: April 21, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Hockey fans in Calgary and Edmonton may be experiencing different emotions—much more upbeat in the capital city today. But differences in hockey playoffs aside, Alberta’s two major cities have much more in common these days...

Adapting to the post-recession economy

Posted on: April 20, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
As Albertans, we are all aware of the economic clouds that have been hanging over our province for the last two years.

USA still thirsty for Alberta's oil

Posted on: April 19, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
There are three main customers for Alberta’s oil: 1) Alberta refineries; 2) refineries in other parts of Canada; and 3) refineries in the US. While a significant amount of Alberta’s oil output stays within Canada...

Alberta produces four per cent of the world's crude

Posted on: April 18, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
When comparing Alberta’s crude oil production to other countries, we see that we were the eighth largest producer in the world in 2015, or about four per cent of total global output.

Oil sands is king

Posted on: April 17, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Oil sands production accounted for 77 per cent of Alberta’s crude oil output in 2015

Manufacturing getting a lift from stronger oil prices

Posted on: April 14, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Another in a string of indicators suggest Alberta is shaking off the recession and heading towards better days in 2017.

Production is up: New Perch examines Alberta's oil resources

Posted on: April 13, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Despite challenges, Alberta produced 137 per cent more oil in 2015 than it did in 1985.

Hockeynomics: Price elasticity of playoff tickets

Posted on: April 12, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Playoff tickets? They’re almost perfectly inelastic. That is, a large change in price has virtually no effect on the amount demanded.

Another three-letter industry in Fort McMurray revealed

Posted on: April 11, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Even though art may not be the talk of the town, there is a strong recognition in Wood Buffalo of the importance of the arts.

Housing starts solid in March

Posted on: April 10, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
The latest data on new housing starts in Alberta suggest that we might be shaking off the recession blues.

Jobs report a surprise

Posted on: April 07, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
The latest Labour Force Survey report for Alberta is almost too good to be true.

Outflow from Alberta much less during this recession than in the 1980s

Posted on: April 06, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Not surprisingly, the current downturn has been accompanied by a drop in the number of people coming to our province to find jobs and, in turn, a net outflow of Albertans to other parts of the country.

Call me? Or Skype me?

Posted on: April 05, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Consumers in Alberta have seen certain prices rise steeply over the last decade—but are the prices of communication services among them?

Alberta exports slip in February

Posted on: April 04, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
February’s trade data were a disappointment compared to the month prior as both energy and non-energy goods stumbled.

Oil production back on track after biggest drop since the 1950s

Posted on: April 03, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
We are all aware of how low oil prices have been hammering the Alberta economy over the last two years. What might be surprising is that oil production increased by six per cent in 2015 compared to 2014.

Albertans' paychecks continue to drift lower

Posted on: March 31, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Even though Alberta’s labour market has shown signs of life recently, Albertans’ paychecks took a cut in January. At the start of this year, average weekly earnings fell by almost two percentage points from December of last year.

Film and TV production still dominated by large provinces

Posted on: March 30, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
When watching American-produced movies and TV shows, Canadians love catching a glimpse of a homegrown landmark in the background—the tell-tale sign that although the show is set in New York or San Francisco, it was filmed in Toronto or Vancouver.

Home construction to slow in Calgary?

Posted on: March 29, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
New data show that Alberta’s home construction industry may be set to slow in 2017, especially in the province's most populous city. The latest housing statistics show there is an increasing number of new, but vacant houses on the market in Calgary.

Three cheers for local beers!

Posted on: March 28, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
This week, Red Deer will host the 2017 Alberta Craft Brewing Convention. And judging by the number of new entrants into the market, they’ll have a big turn-out at the event.

Out-migration still only a trickle

Posted on: March 27, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
For as long as Alberta has been a province, people have been coming and going depending on economic conditions. The recession of 2015-16 has been typical—more Albertans have packed up and left the province for greener pastures elsewhere.

Canola pricing strong to start 2017

Posted on: March 24, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
While plenty of Albertans were unhappy about the recent spring snowfall, the sight was a welcome one for many of our province’s farmers.

E.I. claims tumble

Posted on: March 23, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Being without work and collecting employment insurance (E.I.) became much more common for thousands of Albertans over the recession. But as 2017 got started, fewer E.I. cheques were flowing to the unemployed in the province.

Labour participation rate unaffected by recession

Posted on: March 22, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
The pain felt in Alberta’s labour market over the last couple of years has driven thousands of workers to unemployment. Yet recession or no recession, Albertans continue to be engaged in the workforce at a much higher rate than those in the rest of Canada

Alberta's retail sector sets 2017 on solid footing

Posted on: March 21, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
The first retail report of the year suggests that Alberta’s retail sector is starting 2017 on solid footing. The latest data show that sales from Alberta’s retailers grew to its highest level in over two years ($6.4 billion).

Golden gooey goodness goes global

Posted on: March 20, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Agriculture and agri-food production in Alberta is big business, and it’s not just the traditional beef, wheat and canola in the limelight. One of the most celebrated and successful food products coming out of Alberta these days is honey.

Manufacturing sets the stage for a decent year

Posted on: March 17, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
The first manufacturing report of 2017 suggests Alberta’s manufacturing sector is showing more signs of life and confirms shipments from Alberta’s factories are on the rise.

Alberta records lowest rate of business bankruptcies

Posted on: March 16, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Albertans were happy to say, “Hasta la vista, baby,” to 2016. But while the economy wallowed in recession for a second straight year, we still managed to see the lowest rate of business bankruptcy in the country.

Oil drops below $US50

Posted on: March 15, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
After showing stability over the first couple months of the year, oil prices have fallen recently. The price for benchmark U.S. oil fell to around $US48 in North American trading Tuesday.

Alberta hotels and motels weathered the storm

Posted on: March 14, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Throughout the recession, tourism continued to be an enormous support to Alberta’s economy. New data from Statistics Canada shows the accommodation sector managed to navigate the downturn reasonably well.

Albertans on the move

Posted on: March 13, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
We’ve all heard about Albertans moving to other provinces to find work, but Albertans also move about within the province. The latest census data on sub-provincial regions reveals some interesting patterns of intra-provincial migration.

February job numbers show signs of improvement

Posted on: March 10, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Even though the job situation for thousands of Albertans is still difficult, Statistics Canada’s latest employment report shows a slight improvement in February.

Is construction in Calgary and Edmonton set to collapse this year?

Posted on: March 09, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
To say there’s been some fear about Alberta’s construction activity is an understatement. Given the amount of over-build that we’ve seen—particularly for commercial real estate—the sector is surely headed for a crash. Or is it?

Housing starts show economic improvement

Posted on: March 08, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Housing starts offer a good way to assess economic confidence, as they give us an indication as to where we are in the economic cycle. After a rough January, homebuilders managed to find new projects in February.

Energy products help boost exports

Posted on: March 07, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
In order to reel itself out of this economic downturn, Alberta’s economy will need to rely on exports to fuel its rebound. Statistics Canada’s first report on global trade for 2017 brings some good news in that regard.

Has Saskatchewan’s job market fared better than Alberta’s?

Posted on: March 06, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Call it sibling rivalry: Albertans love comparing ourselves with our twin sister, Saskatchewan. There are many comparisons to be made—particularly when both oil-rich provinces were booming a few years ago.

Alberta's cattle population stable

Posted on: March 03, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
You see hundreds of them grazing across the ranches of Alberta, but how many of us know that cattle actually outnumber the 4 million humans in this province?

Energy sector held back Canada’s economy in 2016

Posted on: March 02, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Alberta has traditionally played a huge role as one of the engines of Canada’s economy. But the slowdown in the energy sector over the last few years has held back national economic growth.

Alberta back to growth in 2017

Posted on: March 01, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
There’s no denying that the last couple of years have been difficult for Albertans and the provincial economy. But in 2017, it is expected to get better.

Restaurant receipts remain solid

Posted on: February 28, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
After two months of gains, sales from Alberta’s restaurants and bars ticked lower. The final restaurant report for 2016 showed that total receipts across the province were $746 million, a quarter of a per cent less than November.

Keep an eye out for video games

Posted on: February 27, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Alberta is developing itself into a powerhouse of video game design. Many Albertans know the story of Bioware (if you don’t, Google it), but there are plenty of other companies in our province that are quietly toiling away.

Motorists faced higher prices, but grocery shoppers got a break in January

Posted on: February 24, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Retail sales in Alberta have now risen for five consecutive months. Part of the increase in total sales may not be rising consumer sentiment, but rather the fact that prices are rising.

Which sectors put in the most overtime last year? You might be surprised.

Posted on: February 23, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Even during a troubling economic year like 2016, there were still over 2.2 million Albertans heading out the door each day to their jobs. And for many of these, the regular work week extended into paid overtime hours.

Santa's sleigh a little heavier in 2016

Posted on: February 22, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Despite the recession and a survey commissioned by ATB Financial that found that four in ten Albertans were planning to spend less over the holiday season than the year before, retail spending in Alberta grew by two per cent in December 2016.

Wholesale trade shows sign of recovery

Posted on: February 21, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
There are a few indicators that are starting to suggest that Alberta’s economy may be recovering from the recession. One of these indicators is wholesale activity.

Office construction costs flat-lining

Posted on: February 17, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Those shiny office towers standing majestically on the skylines of Edmonton and Calgary aren’t just impressive—they’re expensive! The costs of these major commercial office projects tend to fall during recessions. But what’s happening this time?

Employment Insurance numbers float near record high

Posted on: February 16, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
The latest Employment Insurance (E.I.) numbers show that Alberta’s labour market showed further signs of deterioration last December.

Manufacturing set to take-off this year

Posted on: February 15, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
New data confirms manufacturing sector is starting 2017 on some sturdy footing.

The economics of flowers

Posted on: February 14, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
It’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air. And the smell of flowers is too.

Young job seekers still struggling

Posted on: February 13, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
It’s a common and age-old catch-22: young people have trouble finding work because they lack experience, but they can’t gain experience until they find work.

Job market unchanged in January

Posted on: February 10, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
The thousands of Albertans who are pounding the pavement looking for work may be finding that the situation is not getting much better. But then again, they may be finding that it’s not getting much worse.

Alberta sees a surge in population

Posted on: February 09, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
The topic of immigration has been all over the news. For Alberta, immigration has helped Calgary and Edmonton become the fastest growing cities in the nation.

A mixed mood at Alberta’s lumber mills

Posted on: February 08, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Alberta’s forestry sector, while much smaller than its petroleum cousin, continues to provide economic diversity in many communities across western and northern Alberta. But these days, the mood is mixed for lumber mills.

Building intentions end year on a sour note

Posted on: February 07, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Many Albertans were happy to sing Auld Lang Syne at the end of December and bid 2016 farewell. It was a difficult year for many in the province as the economy struggled through a second year of recession.

Cattle prices struggling

Posted on: February 06, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Alberta ranchers have had a tough start to 2017. First, there was an outbreak of bovine tuberculosis in the southern part of our province. Now, prices for cattle are slumping.

Look to the Land of the Rising Sun for increased trade?

Posted on: February 03, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
These are harrowing days for Canadian exporters. With NAFTA in question, our heavy reliance on trade with the US puts us in a tricky spot. Fortunately, there are many other trading nations—and one with which Alberta has a great relationship is still eager

Oil production ramps back up

Posted on: February 02, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
A change in government in the United States, as well as OPEC’s agreement to cut production at the end of November, caused oil prices to jump up to over $US 50 a barrel.

Edmonton and Calgary have more of an impact nationally

Posted on: February 01, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Cities are vital to the economic prosperity of a nation. Major metropolitan areas are key for trade, banking, finance and innovation.

Restaurant and bar receipts continue to show love

Posted on: January 31, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
When economic uncertainty strikes, many are forced to cut spending on discretionary goods such as new clothes, televisions and dining out at restaurants. But, here in Alberta, the story seems to be a little different.

Number of new, but vacant homes on the rise in Calgary

Posted on: January 30, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
If you’re looking to buy a house and renovations aren’t your cup of tea, you may want to consider a new build, especially if you live in Calgary.

New vehicle sales in Alberta remain above national average

Posted on: January 27, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Vroom! Vroom! The sound of a new car or truck engine is pure joy to many Albertans.

Alberta, the only province to see annual earnings decline

Posted on: January 26, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
The latest payroll numbers show that Alberta’s labour market is still adapting to the economic conditions. Even though paychecks grew by almost a percentage point higher from October, compared to a year ago, earnings are lower by 1.6 per cent.

Rate of unfilled jobs varies across the province

Posted on: January 25, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Job seekers in Alberta know how difficult it can be to find appropriate work. And pounding the pavement or checking out job websites can be even more challenging in some parts of the province than in others.

Wholesale trade rises for second consecutive month

Posted on: January 24, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Tracking wholesale trade can be a great gauge of future retail activity because wholesalers sell products to governments, institutions and other businesses.

Reversal of fortune: Oil sands production dominates crude output in Alberta

Posted on: January 23, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
In elementary school in the 1970s, a small glass jar filled with what looked like dirt was passed around a Calgary classroom. The guest speaker said that Alberta had a vast amount of this stuff and that one day we would be producing lots of oil from it.

Alberta retail activity still above average

Posted on: January 20, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Recession or not, Albertans love their shopping. Retail sales in November of last year rang in at $6.15 billion—a drop of only two per cent from a year ago (adjusted for seasonality).

Manufacturing gains some traction

Posted on: January 19, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
It’s what many manufacturers have been waiting for. Alberta’s workshops and factories gained some traction in November as the shipment of goods grew to the highest point of 2016.

Jobless benefits climb to near-record high

Posted on: January 18, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Simply paying bills and buying groceries has become a challenge for thousands of jobless Albertans. Employment insurance (E.I.) benefits—while providing less than what a paycheque would have—can at least help those households get by.

Investment in non-residential buildings falls for seventh consecutive quarter

Posted on: January 17, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
New data show that investment in non-residential construction in Alberta fell for the seventh consecutive quarter to end 2016. The numbers also show that total investment slipped to levels last seen at the end of 2013.

Migration flow from Saskatchewan remains positive

Posted on: January 16, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Thousands of Albertans have their roots in our sister province to the east—Saskatchewan. Over the years, that province has been a traditional source of interprovincial migration flowing to Alberta.

Residential land prices outpacing that of new houses

Posted on: January 13, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Consumers often feel that the only direction prices go are up—but of course in real estate, this isn’t the case. In an index with the 2007 price set equal to 100, the latest price index of a new home in Alberta is 99.5—a half per cent less.

Announced layoffs trending lower

Posted on: January 12, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Each month Statistics Canada provides a series of reports on the job market, and each of these has shown how Alberta’s economy has shed jobs over the recession.

ATB customer calls show economic improvement

Posted on: January 11, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
There’s no doubt that the current economic downturn has been difficult for many Albertans. But, a recent analytics study of ATB Financial’s own Customer Care Centre shows that the economic situation here in Alberta may slowly be getting better.

Housing starts end 2016 on positive note

Posted on: January 10, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Housing construction is one of The Owl’s favourite indicators of the health of the economy—it gives both a gauge of consumer confidence and a forward-looking indication of retail spending on things like new furniture, appliances and home décor.

Livestock prices continue their slide

Posted on: January 09, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Cattle ranchers in parts of Alberta are worried about bovine tuberculosis, but that’s not all that has them concerned. The product prices for both cattle and hogs continued their slide in the final months of 2016.

Employment ends 2016 on a positive note

Posted on: January 06, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
It’s a year many in Alberta will be happy to forget—at least when it comes to the economy. But new data on the job market suggest that the province ended the year on a positive note.

Retail sales sneak a fourth consecutive monthly increase

Posted on: December 22, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
For the fourth month in a row, retail sales inched higher in Alberta. According to the latest retail sales data from Statistics Canada, sales grew by nearly one per cent between September and October and edged up to $6.2 billion.

Paycheques getting thinner

Posted on: December 21, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
In another clear sign that Alberta’s labour market is adjusting to new realities, average weekly earnings continued to slide lower in October. Statistics Canada reports that the average weekly earnings for employees in Alberta were $1,106.29 in October.

Employment insurance claims edge higher

Posted on: December 20, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
The labour market has been hit hard by this recession, with thousands of Albertans—from rig workers to accountants, and electricians to kitchen cooks—thrown out of work.

Bankruptcies tiptoe higher

Posted on: December 19, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
As Alberta’s unemployment began to creep higher in September, the number of people who filed for bankruptcy grew as well.

Alberta food producers on the rise

Posted on: December 16, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Earlier in the week, The Owl explored how honey production in Alberta has increased nearly seven-fold over the last few decades to over $70 million. But it’s not the only food product that has taken off.

Out-migration from Alberta picks up pace

Posted on: December 15, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
One of the many benefits of living in Canada is that labour is free to move about the country in search of employment. For years, Alberta was the recipient of in-migration from other provinces as the hot economy drew thousands of people.

No big surprise as oil production falls, but wait...

Posted on: December 14, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
OPEC’s agreement to cut production at the end of November caused oil prices to hover around $US 50 (West Texas Intermediate, WTI). But it’s not just OPEC cutting production, Alberta producers have had to cut back production, too.

Natural gas prices jump up...quietly

Posted on: December 13, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
In case you missed it, natural gas prices have climbed to levels not seen for about two and a half years. As of yesterday, the Canadian benchmark’s (AECO) spot price closed around C$3.40/MMBtu.

Livestock prices sliding this fall

Posted on: December 12, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Alberta ranchers have their hands full with more than a few worries these days. First, there is the outbreak of bovine tuberculosis in the southern part of our province. And this fall, the prices for both cattle and hogs in the province slumped.

Busy bees!

Posted on: December 09, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Quebec may be Canada’s most prolific producer of maple syrup, but no other province comes close to Alberta when it comes to another sweet, sticky, delicious treat: honey.

Housing starts stable, but below 10-year average

Posted on: December 08, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
The resilience in Alberta’s housing prices has been one of the surprises throughout this recession. Part of the reason for this resilience has been the pull-back in the amount of new inventory coming onto the market.

Keep your eyes peeled for this industry!

Posted on: December 07, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Smothering French fries with gravy and cheese curds is a Canadian favourite and is served at arenas, restaurants and food trucks all over the province. Is our love for poutine and other potato dishes causing Alberta’s potato industry to reach new heights?

Exports climb higher in October

Posted on: December 06, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Just as many Albertans have come from places around the world, our provincial economy relies on export sales back to those countries. Statistics Canada’s final report of the year on global trade brings a bit of good news.

A glimpse into youth employment trends

Posted on: December 05, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Statistics Canada has released a study examining how labour market indicators have evolved for Canada’s youth (aged 15 to 24) since 1976. Today’s Owl looks at these youth employment trends both nationally and from an Alberta angle.

Unemployment rate hits 22-year high

Posted on: December 02, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Job seekers in Alberta struggled to find work in November as our province’s unemployment rate ticked two-tenths of a percentage point higher to nine per cent. That’s the highest rate since the summer of 1994.

Looks like a lean holiday season for Alberta retailers

Posted on: December 01, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
While the importance of holiday shopping will vary from retailer to retailer, the surge in spending that takes place ahead of Christmas is often critical to a retailer’s survival.

A lot of love for restaurants and bars

Posted on: November 30, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
New data shows that Albertans continue to eat out despite the economic downturn.

Farm income rises amid tough economic conditions

Posted on: November 29, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Last year, many sectors in Alberta had to battle tough economic conditions, with many continuing to do so to this day. But, new data suggests that Alberta’s agriculture industry may not be one of these sectors.

How is the energy sector cutting costs?

Posted on: November 28, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
For Alberta’s oil producers, the last two years have been all about one thing: reducing expenses. When the benchmark oil prices fell from $US 100 to below $30 per barrel, producers were scrambling to lower costs and improve efficiency.

Housing investment showing signs of a recovery

Posted on: November 25, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
The latest housing investment numbers show that Alberta’s construction and housing sectors may be nearing recovery and maybe, even picking up steam.

Earnings continue to drift lower

Posted on: November 24, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
There are an increasing number of indicators that are showing that an economic recovery may be starting to take place in Alberta. Unfortunately, average weekly earnings is not one of them.

Employment insurance claims up in September

Posted on: November 23, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
With the difficult economy has come job losses for thousands of Albertans. This means a growing number of people are relying on employment insurance (E.I.) benefits to help make ends meet.

Retail sales unmoved

Posted on: November 22, 2016 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Alberta’s retail sector again flexed its muscles and showed its rigidity in September. That month, retail sales in Alberta totalled $6.1 billion, a 0.3 per cent increase from August.

Kids, kids everywhere!

Posted on: November 21, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
If you’ve been to any soccer field, playground or children’s festival lately, you’ll know that Alberta has a lot of kids. But despite the multitude of kids in the province, we are not quite on the top of the heap when it comes to children as a percent of

Consumer price increases remain weak

Posted on: November 18, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Many Albertans have a lot to feel anxious about these days, but there is a bit of positive news for shoppers. Prices of consumer goods and services continue to show little inflationary pressure.

Vehicle sales hit the gas pedal in September

Posted on: November 17, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
After a small sales drop in August, Alberta’s new vehicle sales rebounded in September by over 10 per cent. The latest new vehicle report from Statistics Canada showed that approximately 2,000 more vehicles pulled out of Alberta dealerships in September.

Manufacturing stays the course

Posted on: November 16, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
After engineering some growth in August, manufacturing shipments remained virtually unchanged in September. Statistics Canada’s most recent data on manufacturing shows that total shipments stayed around $5.3 billion, a decline of only 0.4 per cent.

Some travellers to Alberta seeing lower prices: Part II

Posted on: November 15, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Yesterday in The Owl, we saw how travellers in Canada and Alberta have seen hotel rates move in opposite directions. Most visitors to Canada are paying more, while those in Alberta are seeing some price reductions.

Some travellers to Alberta seeing lower prices: Part I

Posted on: November 14, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
One modest benefit of a recession is that some prices start to fall, a reflection of lower demand and less discretionary income. In the case of Alberta’s current downturn, the advantage of lower prices seems to be extending to our visitors, as well.

New home prices still unchanged

Posted on: November 10, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
The current recession in Alberta has done very little to knock down prices for new homes, at least according to the new housing price index.

Up and down: Self-employment in Alberta

Posted on: November 09, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
After increasing by 4.6 per cent in September, Statistics Canada’s monthly Labour Force Survey shows that self-employment in Alberta fell by 4.5 per cent in October. This translates into 17,100 fewer Albertans in the self-employed category in October.

Building permits rise, not because of the economy

Posted on: November 08, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Economic indicators are usually driven up or down by changes in the economy or business sentiment. However, some indicators can be influenced by events completely outside the realm of economics. The construction sector is a good example.

Unemployment moving in opposite directions

Posted on: November 07, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s two largest cities always enjoy a spirited rivalry. These days, when it comes to unemployment rates, Edmonton is pulling into a commanding lead.

October's job report upbeat, with caveats

Posted on: November 04, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s difficult economy has presented a challenge for thousands of job seekers this year. New data on the labour market suggest jobs are being created. The problem is, they aren’t all high quality.

The rise and fall of gasoline prices

Posted on: November 03, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
When our car gas light turns on, we have no choice: we need to fill up. This inescapable need is precisely why we voice our displeasure so vehemently when prices increase.

Is the worst over? Alberta’s GDP to grow in 2017, but full recovery will take time

Posted on: November 02, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Today, ATB Financial is releasing its fourth and final Alberta Economic Outlook of 2016. The report provides the latest update on our province’s economy as we head into the last months of 2016 and into 2017.

Alberta's exports to the European Union

Posted on: November 01, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
Seven years in the making, CETA was finally signed on Sunday. The agreement will remove countless tariffs preventing the free movement of goods between Canada and the EU.

Restaurant and bar numbers a real treat

Posted on: October 31, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Who loves a slice of pizza paired with their favourite glass of wine? Or an Alberta-made burger with a tasty craft beer? According to new data, many Albertans!

The world will remain thirsty for oil

Posted on: October 28, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
Given the focus on renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions, you might think that global oil consumption has been falling and will continue to fall in the decades ahead. This is not the case.

Earnings bucking the trend

Posted on: October 27, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
The latest employment insurance, retail and wholesale trade numbers show that a more stable economy is taking shape. That said, there is one metric that is having a tough time pushing higher...average earnings.

Will Albertans spend less on gifts this year?

Posted on: October 26, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Consumers in Alberta have no doubt pulled back when it comes to their shopping habits. But total retail sales include items such as gasoline and groceries that are considered necessities and these do not fluctuate much with recessions.

Building costs falling in Alberta cities

Posted on: October 25, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The shimmering new office towers that have sprouted up in downtown Edmonton and Calgary are striking to behold—and they’ve often come with a hefty price tag. However, there is evidence that those prices have started to fall.

Wholesale trade numbers offer more good news

Posted on: October 24, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
After a slight decline in July, total wholesale activity in Alberta picked back up again in August. The latest report showed that wholesale sales reached $6.2 billion and grew by $128 million or 2.1 per cent from July.

Alberta shoppers holding their ground

Posted on: October 21, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
We may be in a recession, but that has not stopped Albertans from continuing to lead the country in retail sales—at least when you measure sales per person. On that measure, we are still number one in the land.

E.I. numbers bring a bit of good news

Posted on: October 20, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
As Alberta’s labour market managed to find a bit of traction in August, the number of jobless Albertans collecting employment insurance fell. Recent data from Statistics Canada show that 86,570 Albertans received regular E.I. cheques.

Now boarding: International air travel to Alberta is taking off

Posted on: October 19, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Albertans who have been through either of the province’s two major international airports have noticed the massive expansions over the last few years. All of that construction work is starting to pay off—especially in terms of international tourism.

Manufacturing engineers a win in August

Posted on: October 18, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Unlike the Toronto Blue Jays who are struggling with manufacturing a string of wins in their league series, Alberta’s manufacturing sector finally got a much-needed victory in August.

Bean scene

Posted on: October 17, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
As a kid, you either loved them or hated them. But it seems more and more Albertans are developing a taste for locally grown green beans. As a cash crop in the province, they’ve more than doubled in value from a few years ago.

Construction spending eases up

Posted on: October 14, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Albertans have become accustomed to the deafening roar of earth movers, jack hammers and cement trucks. But all of that activity died down just a bit over the summer. Construction spending on non-residential projects slipped to $2.55 billion.

Forestry today: Part II Forestry's role in Manufacturing

Posted on: October 13, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Yesterday, in part one of the forestry series, The Owl focused on lumber prices. Today in part two, The Owl swoops into forestry’s relationship with Alberta’s manufacturing industry.

Forestry today: Part I Lumber prices stay strong ahead of Softwood Lumber agreement

Posted on: October 12, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Trees are showing the first signs of autumn and winter. And in Alberta’s case, trees have also signalled and offered economic support. Over the last couple of years, our province’s forestry industry has flourished.

Housing starts rebound

Posted on: October 11, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Shiny new condominium projects and charming new subdivisions have become familiar sights in Alberta, but there’s no question that the pace of new home construction has been slowed by the recession.

Alberta employment shakes off summertime blues

Posted on: October 07, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The summer of 2016 was a difficult one for Alberta. But as both leaves and temperatures are falling, economic indicators this week were rising: oil popped back above $50 a barrel, building permits inched higher…and to top off the week, employment surged.

Builders' intentions pick up in August

Posted on: October 06, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
In Alberta, we’re used to seeing cranes fill our skylines. But with two years of economic contraction and slower growth ahead, many thought those cranes would disappear. New data suggests the cranes aren’t going away, at least not without a fight.

Cattle prices continue their slide

Posted on: October 05, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Driving through Alberta, you’ll see them in pastures munching away on grass or feed, blissfully unaware of their declining value. There are 5 million cattle in Alberta and they aren’t worth what they used to be worth.

Business bankruptcies on the decline

Posted on: October 04, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
While many have struggled through the course of this economic downturn, new data shows that businesses in Alberta are actually coping well, at least when it comes to staving off bankruptcy.

Overtime hours sliding in Alberta during recession

Posted on: October 03, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Having the boss ask us to stick around a few more hours each week can seem like a bit of a chore for some workers—although these days, many Alberta workers may feel thankful for the extra pay. Overtime hours have been falling here since mid-2014.

Stable restaurant receipts may mask deeper problems

Posted on: September 30, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
For many of us, nothing beats a good home-cooked meal. Still, a tasty plate of nachos at the local pub or a well-prepared meal at one of Alberta’s high-end restaurants is a close second.

What's oil doing?

Posted on: September 29, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
OPEC agreed to cut oil production at its latest meeting in Algiers, Algeria. This was the first time OPEC agreed to cut its oil output since 2008. Oil prices gained in the aftermath of the meeting but have since weakened.

More Albertans packing their bags and leaving

Posted on: September 28, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
With Alberta in another year of recession, more people are leaving the province. Between March and May, a total of 21, 837 people arrived in Alberta from other provinces. At the same time, 24,002 packed their cars and moving vans.

Retail's recessionary reactions in Alberta

Posted on: September 27, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Although retail sales have held up relatively well through two years of recession, there’s no denying they have reacted negatively.

Meat prices elevated, but relief is in sight

Posted on: September 26, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Hungry for a nice salmon filet or a juicy T-bone steak? You’ll have to shell out a lot more for it today than you did six years ago.

Retail sales slumping…not collapsing

Posted on: September 23, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Finding a parking spot at any major shopping mall or retail centre in Alberta can be a challenge—even during the middle of the week. It seems that despite the recession, Albertans are still out shopping.

E.I. claims grow to new heights

Posted on: September 22, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
The number of jobless Albertans collecting federal employment insurance benefits (E.I.) grew to new heights in July. In the most recent report from Statistics Canada, 99,320 Albertans collected regular E.I. cheques.

Wholesale activity slides back down

Posted on: September 21, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
After a surprise increase in June, total wholesale activity in Alberta fell to levels seen earlier in the year. July’s report showed that wholesale sales slipped by $157 million or 2.5 per cent from June.

Women in the workplace: Part II Young women seeing highest rates of unemployment

Posted on: September 20, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Yesterday, The Owl explored how female workers in the province have not suffered job losses to the same extent as their male counterparts (read Part I). But this doesn’t mean women are having an easy time of it.

Women in the workplace: Part I Women faring better than men in job losses

Posted on: September 19, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The current recession has taken its toll on thousands of Albertans, with many of them losing their jobs. But similar to what happened in past downturns, fewer women than men are finding themselves out of work.

Manufacturing shipments slide in July

Posted on: September 16, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
After a slight increase in June, manufacturing shipments fell again in July. The latest data on manufacturing showed that sales fell back to around $5.1 billion, a decline of about 1.5 per cent.

Putting education to work: Education and employment in Alberta

Posted on: September 15, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
Does a post-secondary education pay-off in terms of employment? That’s just one of the questions we answer in our latest edition of Perch—to be released on Friday.

What's your major? Post-secondary education levels in Alberta

Posted on: September 14, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
As students settle into lecture halls across the province, it’s a good time to examine post-secondary education in Alberta. In our latest edition of Perch—to be released this Friday—ATB’s economic’s team is doing just that.

Home renovations holding up well

Posted on: September 13, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
As The Owl reported yesterday, the slow economy may be wearing on new housing starts in Alberta.

Residential building slows at the end of summer

Posted on: September 12, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta home builders continued to rein in their activity in August, keeping pace with the softer demand for new homes as the 2016 recession grinds on.

A little goods news in the job market

Posted on: September 09, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta ended a four-month trend in job losses, posting a small—but encouraging—gain in August.

New house prices steady

Posted on: September 08, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
If you’re an Albertan in the market for a new house in Calgary or Edmonton, you may not be noticing much movement in the price lately. In fact, new home prices continue to win the award for “Most Boring Graph”—as illustrated below.

Economy weighs on non-residential investment

Posted on: September 07, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
The value of non-residential construction in Alberta fell over the second quarter of 2016 as total investment fell to lows last seen in 2013.

Any volunteers?

Posted on: September 06, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
Our quality of life would plummet without volunteers. From soccer coaches and mentors to non-profit board members and bake sale organizers, volunteers help make Alberta a fun, caring and interesting place to live.

Exports stuck in second gear

Posted on: September 02, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The value of global exports from Alberta remains lacklustre, another signal that this current economic downturn won’t be easy to shake off. In July, exports from the province to all international markets totalled just under $6.1 billion.

Alberta tourism still growing

Posted on: September 01, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
As summer draws to a close and students return to the classroom, it’s a good time to look at Alberta’s latest travel numbers.

Restaurant sales remain solid

Posted on: August 31, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
There’s more evidence this morning that the recession is having only a limited negative impact on some of the high-level economic indicators in Alberta.

A breakdown of Alberta's retail sector

Posted on: August 30, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
June’s retail sales numbers were recently released. They showed that for the second month in a row, Alberta’s total retail sales had tumbled. Given the economic backdrop at the moment, it’s not surprising to see retail sales at lower levels.

Petroleum equipment prices starting to ease up

Posted on: August 29, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
If there are any positive notes to an economic downturn, it’s that prices for certain goods often start to come down after a period of rising steadily.

Housing investment falls to 2012 levels

Posted on: August 26, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
The most recent housing investment numbers from Statistics Canada show that Alberta’s construction industry is still feeling economic pain.

Average earnings rise in June

Posted on: August 25, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
According to the latest Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours, published monthly by Statistics Canada, the average weekly earnings of employees in our province rose to $1,119 (seasonally adjusted before taxes, including overtime hours).

Crop production on track for great year

Posted on: August 24, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Any good crop farmer will wisely tell you, “You don’t count it until it’s in the bin! Too much water, too little water, hail, frost, grasshoppers…farming is not for the timid.”

Provincial comparison: Ontario 2009 vs. Alberta 2015

Posted on: August 23, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
An analysis comparing what Ontario’s automakers faced in 2009 to what Alberta’s oil patch is enduring was recently released. The federal analysis showed that Ontario’s auto sector absorbed more economic pain in 2009 than Alberta did last year.

June's wholesale trade numbers bring some good news

Posted on: August 22, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Wholesale activity managed to jump up in June. According to this morning’s wholesale report, June’s sales grew by $181 million, or 3.0 per cent from May (this figure is adjusted to account for seasonal variation).

Retail sales fall but still show stabilization

Posted on: August 19, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
For the second month in a row, retail sales fell. In June, total retail sales reached $6.1 billion, about half a per cent lower from May.

E.I. recipients rate of growth slows again

Posted on: August 18, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
After a significant surge in employment insurance (E.I.) beneficiaries in May, the rate of growth fell back in June. According to this morning’s E.I. report, 77,190 people received federal assistance in June, down 620 (or -0.8 per cent) from May.

Has Alberta’s manufacturing diversified?

Posted on: August 17, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Is Alberta’s manufacturing sector more or less diversified than it was a decade ago? As is often the case in economics, the answer is a bit complicated. The graph below shows two pie charts: one from 2006 and one from 2016.

Manufacturing perking up

Posted on: August 16, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
It’s still too soon to break out the champagne and call the end of this recession. But an increasing number of economic indicators are starting to suggest that the very worst of it may be over and that a more stable economy is starting to take shape.

Gasoline sales falling in Alberta

Posted on: August 14, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Housing prices, retail sales and restaurant receipts are the obvious victims of a recession as fewer consumer dollars are able to support spending on these items. But sales of other items tend fall as well—and this recession is proving to be no different.

Alberta’s labour market Part 4: Why has the work force been so stable?

Posted on: August 12, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
In typical recessions, when jobs disappear so do the workers. But during this downturn, Alberta’s labour force has held its ground. Last month, the size of the work force was actually greater (+0.4 per cent) than a year ago. What’s different this time?

Alberta’s labour market Part 3: Which sectors are winners? And which are losers?

Posted on: August 11, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
This week The Owl has focused on the labour market in Alberta. Tuesday’s chart showed how the current unemployment rate compares with other recessions and yesterday’s chart showed a loss of quality full-time jobs.

Alberta’s labour market Part 2: Has the quality of jobs deteriorated?

Posted on: August 10, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Yesterday in The Owl we saw that the unemployment rate in Alberta has indeed risen, but not yet to the highs witnessed in other recessions. Indeed, 91.4 per cent of Alberta’s labour force is still employed. But not all jobs are created equally.

Alberta’s labour market Part 1: Is it really as bad as the 1980s?

Posted on: August 09, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
With Alberta’s recession grinding well into its second year, plenty of people are drawing comparisons to the recession of the 1980s. Certainly for those who have lost their jobs or their businesses, this recession has been nasty.

Builders’ intentions continue to wane in June

Posted on: August 08, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The value of building permits issued by municipalities is an excellent leading indicator of expected construction activity in the coming months.

Modest job losses in July

Posted on: August 05, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
When it comes to Alberta’s labour market in July, there was good news and bad news. The bad news is that, for the fourth consecutive month, the province shed jobs.

Wages hit harder now than during last financial crisis

Posted on: August 04, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
In 2009, the global financial crisis caused Alberta’s economy to shrink nearly six per cent. Last year, Alberta’s economy shrunk four per cent and is expected to shed about two more per cent this year.

Alberta bankruptcies challenge expectations

Posted on: August 03, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
As Alberta’s unemployment rate ticked higher in May, the number of people who filed for bankruptcy over the month actually fell.

Diners and drinkers defy the doom

Posted on: August 02, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Even the worst recession in 30 years can’t hold back Albertans’ enthusiasm for spending at restaurants and bars across the province. Not only did sales in May rise for the second month in a row, they hit an all-time record.

ATB Survey shows growing optimism

Posted on: July 29, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
There’s no doubt Alberta’s economy is still facing a tough road ahead. But, according to ATB Financial’s most recent Business Beat survey, there are signs of growing optimism.

Wages cut...again

Posted on: July 28, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
This morning’s wage report shows that the economic downturn in Alberta continues to tighten its grip on workers’ paycheques. In May, average weekly earnings in Alberta were $1,107.66, down about $12 from April (-1.1 per cent).

Alberta's crop exports are truly global

Posted on: July 27, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The United States is by far the dominant market for Alberta’s energy exports. When it comes to another important sector in the province, though, the Americans are further down the list. Cereal and oilseed exports go mostly to markets overseas.

Alberta's global exports see incredible growth

Posted on: July 26, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
Albertans sold just under $67 billion worth of goods and services to Canadians in other provinces in 2014. Adjusting for inflation, our trade with other Canadians has jumped by 114 per cent since 1981.

Staying in school pays off

Posted on: July 25, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
School probably still seems a long way off for most students. Nonetheless, it’s a good time to remind ourselves of the benefits of getting an education.

Retail sales still stabilizing

Posted on: July 22, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Following an encouraging lift in April, retail sales ticked lower again in May in Alberta. Total sales in our province reached 6.2 billion, down about half of a per cent from April.

Wildfire causes E.I. claims to swell

Posted on: July 21, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
After slowing in April, the rate of growth in employment insurance beneficiaries surged higher in May. According to this morning’s E.I. report, 77,810 people received federal assistance in May, up 8,410 or 12.1 per cent from April.

Manufacturing activity tells a tale of two provinces

Posted on: July 20, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
When Canadians think of the country’s manufacturing activity, they typically default to Ontario and the massive industrial corridor between Windsor and Oshawa. Without question, Ontario is the manufacturing heavyweight among provinces.

New vehicles still a good deal

Posted on: July 19, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Consumers are typically conscious of—and often quite vocal about—rising prices for goods and services. We don’t tend to notice as much when prices fall and we certainly don’t complain.

Alberta's shop floors less busy in May

Posted on: July 18, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
After two months of advances, Alberta’s manufacturing activity dropped about two per cent from April to May.

Non-residential construction moderating in 2016

Posted on: July 15, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Given the record level of spending in 2015, construction activity is easing up in Alberta this year. But you might be surprised that construction is only moderating, not spiralling, down.

Alberta housing starts respond to conditions

Posted on: July 14, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Even though housing starts jumped up in June, the latest housing report suggests Alberta’s homebuilders are continuing to scale back.

Are the kids all right? Alberta youth unemployment through a downturn

Posted on: July 13, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
An increasing number of Albertans find themselves without work. Many of these job-finders are Alberta’s youth.

Tough times will continue for many Albertans; ATB Economic Outlook

Posted on: July 12, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
The report provides the latest update on our province’s economy, with a close look at what may happen during the rest of the year, as well as into 2017.

Lumber prices holding up nicely

Posted on: July 11, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Forestry—often considered the third largest base resource industry in Alberta after energy and agriculture—has had a good run in the first half of 2016.

Jobs report raining on the parade

Posted on: July 08, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
On the day that thousands of Albertans are lining the streets of downtown Calgary to take in the Stampede Parade, the national statistical agency delivered more bad news about the province’s job market.

Construction intentions continue to bounce around

Posted on: July 07, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Construction intentions in our province have dropped again.

Feeding the world

Posted on: July 06, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Exports of agricultural and food products from Alberta to the rest of the world topped $538 million in May.

Bankruptcies fall in April

Posted on: July 05, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
According to the latest statistics released by The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy, insolvencies in our province fell to 500 (-2.9 per cent) in April down from 515 in March.

The United States is Alberta's best customer

Posted on: July 04, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
Given that it‘s the Fourth of July, today’s Owl takes a look at Alberta’s merchandise exports to the United States.

Earnings still drifting lower

Posted on: June 30, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
During a recession, few things hit home harder than the loss of household income. Not only have many Albertans lost their jobs, those that still have work may be finding their paycheques a bit thinner than they were a year or two ago.

A look at UK immigration

Posted on: June 29, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Last week, the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. Last Friday’s Owl touched on the topic of the UK’s trade with Alberta. Trade, of course, was a major Brexit debate topic.

Get your motor runnin’

Posted on: June 28, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Certain sounds provide reliable signs that summer in Alberta has finally arrived. The sound of birds in the trees. The sound of midway rides and carnival games. And of course, the chop-chop-chop of motorcycle engines as they parade up-and-down our roads.

Housing investment drops

Posted on: June 27, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
The latest housing investment numbers from Statistics Canada show that Alberta’s construction industry may be in for a tough slog this year. The data show that total housing investment did pick up from March to April.

Alberta's ties with Britain

Posted on: June 24, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Britain has voted to leave the European Union. Today, The Owl looks at the trade aspect and ties it back to Alberta.

Rate of growth in E.I. recipients slows

Posted on: June 23, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The number of jobless Albertans collecting federal employment insurance benefits ticked slightly higher in April.

Retail sales shows encouraging lift in April

Posted on: June 22, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
While it’s still far too soon to call this recession over, shoppers in our province seem to be shaking off the blues.

Wholesale trade numbers reveal lower business sentiment

Posted on: June 21, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Wholesale trade can play a vital role in an economy. Wholesalers sell to governments, institutions and other businesses and are often a strong force that works in tandem with an economy’s retail sector.

Renters starting to see a break

Posted on: June 20, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
A common outcome of an economic downturn is the lower price of rental accommodations—a benefit to the renter, but a cost to the landowner.

Out-migration from Alberta holding steady

Posted on: June 17, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
During a typical recession in Alberta, it’s common for people to move to other provinces for work. That trend makes what’s happening in the current downturn a bit surprising: so far the number of people leaving Alberta is relatively low.

Alberta housing construction on par with national average

Posted on: June 16, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Last week The Owl described how Alberta’s housing starts are down about 26 per cent over the last 12 months compared to the previous period. While that is true, it’s easy to exaggerate how bad the situation really is.

Manufacturing shipments grow, but still show weakness

Posted on: June 15, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta’s manufacturers were a bit busier in April as the shipment of goods increased for the second consecutive month.

More tourists choose Alberta

Posted on: June 14, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Last week, an Alberta-based airline reported it flew a record number of passengers in May. This was led mainly by new routes of service. But are these new non-stop connections attracting more tourists to our province?

Self-employment continues to bounce around

Posted on: June 13, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
The number of self-employed Albertans jumped by 8,500 in May, an increase of 2.3 per cent. At the same time, the number of employee positions fell by 32,600 (-1.7 per cent). Nationally, self-employment shrank by 11,100 (-0.4 per cent).

Oil patch woes continue to grind on Alberta’s job market

Posted on: June 10, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
If you’re looking for some good economic news to carry with you into the weekend, you won’t find any in this morning’s jobs report.

Developers strengthen building intentions in April

Posted on: June 09, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Despite tumbling in March, the value of building permits picked up in April.

Housing starts struggling

Posted on: June 08, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
After a bit of an unexpected jump higher in April, housing starts in Alberta slumped again last month back down to the level where it has been for much of 2016.

A mixed bag of farm prices

Posted on: June 07, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
The latest farm product price report showed that farmers and livestock owners may be receiving a mixed bag of prices.

Non-permanent residents in Alberta

Posted on: June 06, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta has a long history of welcoming international migrants. Today, non-permanent residents have been the primary driver of international guests living in Alberta.

Dining out during a recession

Posted on: June 03, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
On Tuesday, The Owl reported that Alberta’s restaurant and bar receipts have been hanging on surprisingly well throughout the recession.

Canola prices holding steady in 2016

Posted on: June 02, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
For farmers of canola—one of Alberta’s two most significant cash crops—prices are holding up decently.

March shows more consumer bankruptcies

Posted on: June 01, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
The number of Albertans filing for bankruptcy nudged even higher in March according to the latest report from The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy. Consumer insolvencies in our province grew to a total of 515, up 32 from February.

Restaurant and bar receipts stable in March

Posted on: May 31, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Most of Alberta’s economic indicators related to personal consumption—things like retail sales, housing starts and new vehicle purchases—have slumped during this current downturn. But one indicator of consumption has hung on surprisingly well.

Where’s the beef? Alberta’s exports to Japan

Posted on: May 30, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
With our Prime Minister in Japan last week, it’s a good time to zero-in on that country, the third largest buyer of our merchandise exports (the United States buys the most followed by China).

Oil prices crawling higher

Posted on: May 27, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Early Thursday morning, crude oil surpassed the $US 50 mark for the first time since last autumn. Even though oil closed slightly below $US 50 yesterday, the North American benchmark price for oil appears to be clawing its way back from its February lows.

Earnings inch higher in March, but are still lower than a year ago

Posted on: May 26, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Earnings by employees in Alberta moved slightly higher in March compared to February. But, over the course of the year, workers in general, continue to see smaller paycheques.

Farm profitability strong last year

Posted on: May 25, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s second-largest economic contributor had a decent year in 2015, the result of record-high livestock prices and rains which came in the nick of time.

Home prices stable in 2016 and 2017

Posted on: May 24, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
For those who are concerned about the value of their house plunging in the current economic downturn, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) most recent forecast should offer some comfort.

Retail sales dip, but showing signs of stabilizing

Posted on: May 20, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The warmer spring weather in March didn’t seem to do much to lift the spirits of Alberta shoppers. Retail sales slid again in that month, resulting in the lowest level of spending in almost three years.

Employment insurance levels march closer to all-time highs

Posted on: May 19, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
The number of Albertans collecting employment insurance benefits jumped up again in March.

The rise of crude

Posted on: May 18, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
The economic importance of Alberta’s oil and gas sector can be measured in a variety of ways but is perhaps most apparent in terms of our export mix. Oil and natural gas accounted for 68.3 per cent of Alberta’s international merchandise exports.

Canadian natural gas prices dip below a dollar

Posted on: May 17, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Plenty of focus is placed on Alberta’s oil industry and for good reason. But an often forgotten, but important player in our province’s energy sector is our natural gas industry.

Lumber prices remain close to record high

Posted on: May 16, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s third largest resource industry, forestry, continues to outperform many other sectors of the provincial economy. That’s been welcomed news in a province otherwise challenged by low oil prices and rising unemployment.

Oil extraction and exports tumble

Posted on: May 13, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
After a busier start to this year, oil extraction levels fell in February. Alberta crude oil withdrawals shrunk by nearly nine million barrels from January to February.

Job vacancy rates differ by region

Posted on: May 12, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Despite being in a recession, there are still thousands of jobs around the province that are currently unfilled. But not all regions of the province are created equally—at least not when it comes to unfilled positions.

Alberta liquor sales reach highest point ever

Posted on: May 11, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
It’s hot and you’re thirsty. So, on your way home, you pop into the liquor store to buy a case of beer or maybe a bottle of wine to go with dinner.

Investment in Alberta set to drop for a second year

Posted on: May 10, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Capital spending on new construction, machinery and equipment is expected to pull back sharply in Alberta, according to the latest survey information from Statistics Canada released this morning.

Self-employment numbers down

Posted on: May 09, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
As of April, there were 363,600 Albertans whose main job took the form of self-employment – about 16.0 per cent of all workers. This is down 17,100 from March, a drop of 4.5 per cent.

Job losses continue to mount

Posted on: May 06, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Last month, Alberta’s job market erased all of the surprising gains it had apparently racked up the month before. According to the Labour Force Survey, the province shed nearly 21,000 positions in April.

Building permits tumble after February gains

Posted on: May 05, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
After a decent showing in February, the value of Alberta’s building permits dropped $655 million, tumbling 51 per cent in March. According to Statistics Canada, a total of $930 million in permits were issued from Alberta municipalities.

Trade data reveals economic tenderness

Posted on: May 04, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
New trade data shows Alberta exports fell for a third consecutive month in March, marking the lowest level seen since September 2010. Exports slid to $5.8 billion, 26 per cent lower than March of last year.

Agricultural exports helping to meet global demand

Posted on: May 03, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
Alberta sold more than $10 billion worth of agricultural products to other countries last year, making it our second largest export product category after oil and gas ($63.5 billion).

Alberta slips to second in restaurant spending

Posted on: May 02, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The economic downturn has more Albertans opting to eat meals at home rather than at restaurants and pubs. Yet even with the recent pull-back, diners in this province are still spending more than most other Canadians.

Alberta facing second year of recession

Posted on: April 29, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
With oil prices still well below the level necessary for many petroleum producers to be profitable, Alberta’s economy is on track for a second year of recession in 2016.

Employee earnings lower than a year ago

Posted on: April 28, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Average weekly earnings by employees in Alberta ticked marginally higher in February compared to the previous month. Still, the year-over-year trend remains negative.

Are restaurant prices rising too quickly?

Posted on: April 27, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Restaurant goers may have noticed that they’re forking over more dollars for those delicious dishes. But while menu prices have been trending higher, they may not be rising by as much as you might think.

The elephant in the room: Alberta’s oil and gas exports

Posted on: April 26, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
Alberta is not the only province dominated by a single export product category, but we do lead the nation in this respect. Like Alberta, oil and gas forms the largest slice of Newfoundland and Labrador’s export pie.

How much do Albertans spend on home renovations?

Posted on: April 25, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The residential housing market in Alberta is feeling the pressures of the current downturn, and so too is the amount of investment homeowners are putting into their dwellings.

Consumer spending slips again

Posted on: April 22, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Shoppers in our province continue to lose their enthusiasm for spending money, at least according to the latest read of retail sales activity from Statistics Canada.

Employment insurance inching to 2009 levels

Posted on: April 21, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
As Alberta’s unemployment rate jumped higher in February (7.9 per cent), so too did the amount of Albertans claiming employment insurance benefits.

Wholesale sales fall to lowest level since 2011

Posted on: April 20, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
An overlooked stage of value-added in our economy is wholesale trade. Expectedly, activity in this sector continues to deteriorate due to the current economic conditions.

A tale of two cities: Diverging unemployment rates in Alberta’s major centres

Posted on: April 19, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s two largest cities have been rivals for years, duking it out in hockey, football and population. But recently, the labour market in one city has weathered the economic downturn better than the other.

United States still our best customer by far

Posted on: April 18, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
With all four of the main contenders for the US presidency raising the spectre of increased protectionism, it is a good time to remind ourselves of the importance of the American market to our export sector.

Non-residential building activity softens

Posted on: April 15, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
While Alberta trudges through this current economic downturn, there’s still plenty of building construction going on around the province—major projects such as the arena in Edmonton and office towers in downtown Calgary.

Vehicle sales shift from neutral to first in February

Posted on: April 14, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
New vehicle sales in Alberta managed to notch its first monthly increase since last September in February. According to the latest Statistics Canada release, approximately 15,700 new cars drove out of our province’s dealerships.

Not all exports are created equal

Posted on: April 13, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
With oil prices on a long downward slide, it is not a surprise that the value of Alberta’s international merchandise exports was lower in 2015, falling by 23.9 per cent from the year before.

Seeing the forest AND the trees: A bright spot for Alberta’s economy

Posted on: April 12, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The business pages have been rife with troubling news lately, but there are decidedly bright spots as well. One of those is forestry—the industry has just come off its fourth consecutive year of increase.

Completed but unabsorbed homes swell

Posted on: April 11, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
New data show that the economic slowdown is weighing heavily on Alberta’s housing industry. Housing starts are down by about 56 per cent (year-over-year). Unfortunately for those that sell new homes, a large number of these are staying vacant.

Employment surges higher in March

Posted on: April 08, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Had this morning’s jobs report come one week earlier, it would clearly have appeared to be an April Fool’s Day joke, especially given the province’s current economic woes. But according to the latest numbers, a whopping 19,000 jobs were added in March.

Building permits jump up thanks to one city

Posted on: April 07, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
There were obvious signs that construction activity in Alberta was set to slow significantly this year. But, new building permit data reveal that Alberta’s construction industry may be a little busier in 2016 than many anticipated.

Exports matter to Alberta

Posted on: April 06, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
With international trade deals, the global oil supply glut, signs of weakness in the Chinese economy and renewed talk of American protectionism in the news, it’s a good time to examine just how much Alberta exports to other countries.

Pump prices positively pleasing

Posted on: April 05, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
There’s not much joy that low oil prices are bringing to Alberta’s economy at the moment. Lay-offs and slumping investment activity in the petroleum sector are taking a nasty toll on communities across our province.

Alberta farmers outstanding in their field

Posted on: April 04, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Even though some sectors in our economy continue to battle economic headwinds, new data suggests that Alberta’s agriculture industry is well-positioned to fend off potential financial troubles.

Personal bankruptcies and proposals show tenderness

Posted on: April 01, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
As Alberta’s unemployment rate ticked higher in January so too did the amount of Albertans filing for bankruptcy.

Average earnings tumble in January

Posted on: March 31, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Employees in Alberta may be seeing smaller paycheques to carry them through the week, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada. That may mean some hardship on certain households, however it isn’t all bad news for the provincial economy.

Construction workers’ wages stalled

Posted on: March 30, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
One of the most significant costs of a new home or office building is the labour that goes into it. Unionized construction workers’ incomes have risen over time—but the present economic slowdown in Alberta is flat lining construction workers’ wages.

Is Alberta more innovative?

Posted on: March 29, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
New research from Statistics Canada suggests that Alberta businesses are ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing new technologies.

Cattle still outnumber humans in Alberta

Posted on: March 28, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
If they were a little bit smarter, cattle in Alberta could probably take over the place! There are more bulls, cows, steers and heifers in this province than people—but over time, that gap has narrowed.

Number of E.I. recipients edges higher

Posted on: March 24, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The number of people collecting federal employment insurance benefits (E.I.) in Alberta rose again in January, but the level is still well below that seen only six years ago during the last recession.

City hotels struggle while Alberta resorts show muscle

Posted on: March 23, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
If you drive Highway 2 frequently enough, you may have noticed clearer signage advertising much lower room rates for hotels.

Vehicle sales fall considerably, yet Albertans still buying the most

Posted on: March 22, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
New vehicle sales in Alberta fell to their lowest point since February 2011 in January. According to the latest Statistics Canada release, just over 14,600 new cars drove out of our province’s showrooms. This adds up to about $610 million in sales.

February's inflation breakdown

Posted on: March 21, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Last Friday, Statistics Canada released its February inflation report. It showed that prices in Alberta were virtually unchanged from January and about 1.3 per cent higher than 12 months earlier.

Alberta shoppers still sitting on their wallets

Posted on: March 18, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Consumers in Alberta pulled back a bit more on their spending to kick off 2016, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.

Luck of the Irish? Exports from Alberta to Ireland stumble last year

Posted on: March 17, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Canada exported a record amount of merchandise to Ireland in 2015—but unfortunately not much of that originated in Alberta.

Alberta manufacturing continues to struggle

Posted on: March 16, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
For the sixth time in seven months, manufacturing shipments in Alberta slipped.

Alberta has the youngest population, but it’s aging

Posted on: March 15, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
Alberta is Canada’s youngest province with a median age of 36.2 years—four years younger than the national median age of 40.5 years.

Immigration largest source of new Albertans

Posted on: March 14, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
There are three ways Alberta’s population can grow (or shrink): natural increase (births minus deaths); net interprovincial migration; and, net immigration.

Alberta adds jobs in February, but…

Posted on: March 11, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s job market actually gained a bit of ground (albeit very little) in February, the first time in five months in which the province has added employment.

Alberta is a population powerhouse

Posted on: March 10, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
Since the turn of the millennium in 2000, Alberta has grown by 1.2 million people. This is roughly equivalent to adding another Edmonton or Calgary to the provincial population.

Economic pain turning into emotional pain

Posted on: March 09, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
As the economic pain Alberta has been experiencing turns into emotional pain for the many people affected by the downturn, it’s no surprise that the proportion of Albertans who are feeling happy has been falling.

Building permits pull back to start the year

Posted on: March 08, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Construction activity in Alberta had already started to slow early in 2015, but new data released this morning suggest that not much of a pick-up is expected this year.

Canada’s arts and entertainment scene performing well

Posted on: March 07, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Two weekends ago, Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar for his performance in The Revenant, an adventure movie filmed here in Alberta. The Emmy-winning television show Fargo is also shot in our province.

Exports continue to underwhelm

Posted on: March 04, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Given the deluge of discouraging data lately, it would have been nice to end the week on a positive note. Instead, Statistics Canada reported that exports from Alberta slipped in January again.

Few score in overtime in 2015

Posted on: March 03, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Unfortunately, many companies have had to cut staff and wages to combat the effects of this economic downturn. But is it true that companies have had to trim overtime hours as well?

GDP by industry to close 2015

Posted on: March 02, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Yesterday’s Owl was a snapshot of Canadian gross domestic product in 2015. Economic output advanced at a rate of 0.2 per cent last December, but which sectors were the bright spots and which industries struggled to end out the year?

Canadian GDP in 2015

Posted on: March 01, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
This morning, the final GDP numbers were released and they show that Canada’s economy advanced 0.2 per cent in the final quarter of last year.

Strong finish for restaurant and bar sales in 2015

Posted on: February 29, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Last year was a tough one for many Albertans and thousands were forced to pull back on discretionary spending.

Livestock prices tumble, but crop prices steady to end 2015

Posted on: February 26, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
These days, all eyes remained glued to oil prices in Alberta. But farmers in our province have seen their fair share of ups-and-downs in commodity prices as well. Ranchers enjoyed some record high prices in 2015, but that may be reversing itself.

Wage data in for the end 2015

Posted on: February 25, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
As the final data points continue to roll in for last year, some better news regarding wage data was released this morning.

Lacombe the most giving community!

Posted on: February 24, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Many of the topics covered in The Owl focus on the job market, labour income and the economy. And while we all know Albertans work hard, they also dig deep to help those in need and to support good causes in their communities.

New housing investment numbers slump to close 2015

Posted on: February 23, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Like Alberta’s job market, new data confirm Alberta’s housing market is indeed feeling the effects of the economic downturn. Total investment in all types of new residential construction slid to the lowest level since March 2013 last December.

Alberta’s exports to BRIC countries

Posted on: February 22, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
As a global exporter, Alberta is increasingly reliant on foreign trade. Sales of energy products to the U.S. have tended to dominate our international exports, but low energy prices have taken a toll on the value of our exports.

Alberta retailers feel the holiday blues

Posted on: February 19, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
New retail sales data from Statistics Canada reveal that over the holiday season, cash registers in our province were much less busy than in previous years.

E.I. claims climb higher

Posted on: February 18, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Job losses have been mounting in Alberta, particularly in the energy sector. And as more workers in the province have been thrown into unemployment, the number of those claiming employment insurance benefits has also ticked higher.

The winners of manufacturing in 2015

Posted on: February 17, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Yesterday’s Owl showed that Alberta’s manufacturing sector ended last year on an icy note. And, the petroleum sector, of course, was the main culprit for its poor performance.

Manufacturing ends 2015 on a weak note

Posted on: February 16, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The weather in Alberta may be feeling warm these days, but manufacturing activity is decidedly cool. This morning’s report from Statistics Canada for the province’s manufacturers showed another dip to end off last year.

Survey shows Albertans continue to spend the most

Posted on: February 12, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Once a year, Statistics Canada releases its Survey of Household Spending, a report that shows how much Canadians are spending and how we allocate our hard earned pay. The latest survey findings suggest Albertans still spend the most on goods and services.

Oil extraction and exports rise

Posted on: February 11, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Despite the price of oil being near the bottom of the barrel, oil producers in our province still managed to extract more oil last November.

Population growth still strong

Posted on: February 10, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
The latest population estimates from Statistics Canada show that Alberta’s two large metros grew by more than 65,000 people between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.

Carrot crop crushes competition

Posted on: February 09, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Canadians are growing weary of paying sky high prices for imported fruits and vegetables. Some of those tasty and nutritious veggies are grown much closer to home. The vegetable product with the highest value in Alberta last year was carrots.

Non-residential permits seal year-end growth

Posted on: February 08, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
The future of Alberta’s real estate industry isn’t looking as grim as that of other sectors, according to today’s new building permit numbers from Statistics Canada.

Job situation worsens in kick off to 2016

Posted on: February 05, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Unsurprising to anyone watching the troubles in the oil patch, the year got off to a rocky start in Alberta’s job market. For the fourth straight month, the province shed jobs—and the situation doesn’t appear to be letting up any time soon.

Downturn causes accommodation rates to fall

Posted on: February 04, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
The price of oil hasn’t just hit our energy sector, one measure shows that the slump in oil prices may be having an effect on Alberta’s accommodation industry too.

Shocking news: Electricity prices nearly unchanged since ‘02

Posted on: February 03, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Shoppers in the produce aisles may be seeing the effects of rising consumer price inflation lately. But those responsible for paying the electricity bills are actually enjoying a bit of a break.

Earnings gap between Alberta and Canada is narrowing

Posted on: February 02, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Last week, Statistics Canada released the most recent data on earnings of employees.

Alberta's labour force participation in a downturn

Posted on: February 01, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
When we present labour statistics, we often only mention the unemployment rate or how many net jobs have been added or subtracted from the economy. What is often overlooked is the labour force participation rate.

Canadian GDP grows in November

Posted on: January 29, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
After a decline in September and no growth in October of last year, new data shows that Canada’s economic output gained a bit of traction near the end of last year.

Employers continue to ratchet down payroll costs

Posted on: January 28, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Paycheques of Alberta employees continued to slide lower toward the end of last year as petroleum’s price problems force companies to get their costs under control.

Oil extraction picks up again

Posted on: January 27, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
October’s oil supply and disposition figures show that Alberta’s oil producers were a little more active that month.

Checking the pulse: lentils and dry peas on the rise

Posted on: January 26, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
They may not have the clout of wheat or canola, but other smaller crops suitable for Alberta’s dry climate are increasingly adding to the size and diversity of our agricultural sector.

Alberta's retail spending per capita still leads country

Posted on: January 25, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
There’s no doubt that shoppers in Alberta have reined in their spending a bit as job security and income levels are wobbling. But don’t count them out just yet—they still spend more than shoppers in any other province.

Overall inflation still low, but food inflation is taking off

Posted on: January 22, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The annual rate of price increases for consumers in Alberta actually dropped a bit in December.

Employment Insurance levels nearing 2009 highs

Posted on: January 21, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
The latest employment insurance update from Statistics Canada shows that from October to November, 1,600 more people in Alberta collected employment insurance, bringing the total to 61,300 in November.

Manufacturing activity continues to drop lower

Posted on: January 20, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Manufacturing shipments in Alberta slipped again in November, continuing a slowing trend over the last year or so. While the amount of decrease was less than most other months, it’s unlikely that manufacturing has reached a bottom just yet.

New vehicle sales frost over

Posted on: January 19, 2016 | Author: Nick Ford
Maybe the colder weather has caused your car to freeze up and fail to start. Maybe that means it’s time for a new one. If you’re thinking about buying a new vehicle in Alberta, new data shows there are fewer people driving new cars off the lot.

Non-residential construction held on in 2015

Posted on: January 18, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Signs of the economic slowdown are all around us in Alberta, but the one surprising indicator where we have yet to see much downturn is construction activity.

Alberta's self-employment numbers jump in December

Posted on: January 15, 2016 | Author: Rob Roach
Whether pushed into it by the economic downturn or simply pursuing opportunities regardless of the recession, the number of self-employed Albertans jumped by 16,700 in December.

Albertans in for another tough year: ATB’s Economic Outlook

Posted on: January 14, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Released today, ATB Financial’s first quarterly Economic Outlook of 2016 is forecasting another rocky year for Alberta’s economy with real GDP shrinking by 0.5 per cent. While negative, that’s still less than last year’s real GDP contraction.

Albertans spend the most on vehicles—at least for now

Posted on: January 13, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The economy may be turning a bit sour in Alberta, but that hasn’t prevented motorists in our province from shelling out the most for new cars and trucks.

What’s the outlook for Alberta’s labour force?

Posted on: January 12, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Job losses and rising unemployment last year in Alberta were the unsurprising result of the challenges in the energy sector. But what lies ahead for the labour market?

2015 sputters to an end for new home construction

Posted on: January 11, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Housing starts in Alberta ended the year on a soft note, slumping to the lowest monthly level in nearly four years.

Alberta's job market at the end of 2015

Posted on: January 08, 2016 | Author: Todd Hirsch
In December, Alberta shed another 3,900 positions—not bad considering the low level of oil prices and the extent of the economic downturn that had set in by that time.

Wages still falling

Posted on: December 22, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
In their monthly Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours, Statistics Canada revealed that Alberta was the only province to record a decrease in average weekly earnings over the year in October.

Forestry slows in 2015

Posted on: December 21, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Trees take on festive meaning throughout the holidays. Though that role may be brief, the role they play in our economy is crucial year-round.

Prices move higher in November

Posted on: December 18, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
The price of goods and services in Alberta became a little more expensive in November. According to this morning’s Consumer Price Index report, average prices in our province rose by 2.0 per cent last month when compared to last year.

Alberta losing some appeal for job-seekers

Posted on: December 17, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
It should come as no surprise, but Alberta has lost a bit of its attraction for Canadians in other provinces looking for employment.

Manufacturing: A five-year perspective

Posted on: December 16, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Much of the slide in manufacturing this year has been felt and caused by the energy sector (specifically refined petroleum products). And we know manufacturing as a whole is down from last year. But what if we extend the timeframe a little further?

Manufacturing continues slow decline

Posted on: December 15, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s manufacturers found a bit more free time on their hands in October as shipments of goods slipped again—the fourth consecutive month in a row of declines.

Price causes oil extraction to fall

Posted on: December 14, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
After an all-time high in August, the latest oil supply and disposition figures reveal that Alberta’s oil producers were far less busy in September.

Alberta's use of advanced technology

Posted on: December 11, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
In the December 5th issue of The Economist, the idea that factories do not seem to be making things faster was noted. Has our technology caught up to us so that we’re not able to make goods, or extract resources as quickly?

November housing starts defy expectations

Posted on: December 10, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
On the back of this week’s building permit numbers, Alberta’s housing market again managed to defy expectations and flex its muscles, at least according to the most recent data from the Canada and Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Hiring intentions outweighed by downsizing

Posted on: December 09, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The first quarter of 2016 is not looking great if you’re a job seeker in Calgary. Then again, it’s also not looking all that bad if you’re worried about being laid off.

Construction activity alive and kicking in 2016

Posted on: December 08, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The economy may be in recession, but don’t tell that to real estate developers in Alberta. The value of building permits—an excellent forward-looking indicator of construction activity—has shot up to a new record high.

Cattle prices slide, hog prices stable

Posted on: December 07, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Livestock farmers in Alberta continued to be the pillars of agriculture in the province in 2015. However, this morning’s farm product price report from Statistics Canada shows some mixed results for the two largest livestock commodities.

Jobs report a real Grinch

Posted on: December 04, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The last snap-shot on the labour market before the end of the year offered no holiday cheer in Alberta as the pace of job loss appears to be accelerating.

Alberta farmers still profitable

Posted on: December 03, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
While drought and floods have taken a toll in recent years, Alberta farmers are still engines of the province’s economy. New data from 2014 show that not only are farmers seeing more revenue, they’re profitable as well.

Assessing the quality of self-employment jobs

Posted on: December 02, 2015 | Author: Rob Roach
Does working for yourself pay off? On average, the annual market income of self-employed Canadians is 11 per cent ($5,600) less than that of employees.

Self-employment not evenly spread across the economy

Posted on: December 01, 2015 | Author: Rob Roach
To better understand the role self-employment plays in our economy, it’s important to know the sectors in which self-employed Albertans choose to work.

A long-term look at self-employment in Alberta

Posted on: November 30, 2015 | Author: Rob Roach
Back in the 1990s, it looked like self-employment might become much more common with more and more people running dot.com start-ups rather than working for “the Man” as employees. It didn’t happen.

Employers finding it easier to fill jobs

Posted on: November 27, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The number of unfilled work positions in Alberta fell to 1.6 per cent in August, the lowest level it’s been since 2011 when Statistics Canada started tracking it.

Alberta employee earnings down from a year ago

Posted on: November 26, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Paycheques of Alberta employees picked up a small amount in September compared to August, but year-over-year they continued to be a bit thinner overall. Average weekly earnings were $1,136 (adjusted for seasonality) in September.

Things are looking up down on the farm

Posted on: November 25, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Any shred of good economic news brings a bit of relief in Alberta these days. And once again, the province’s agricultural sector comes to the rescue with an encouraging report on farm cash receipts.

Alberta Employment Insurance levels still below national average

Posted on: November 24, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Last week, the latest employment insurance numbers were released. Unfortunately, given the economic scenario unfolding, the amount of people collecting employment insurance has nearly doubled since last year.

New housing investment numbers continue to reflect some stability

Posted on: November 23, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Even though there are some signs that Alberta’s housing market is cooling, recent data on housing construction investment supports the idea that our province’s housing sector continues to remain in pretty decent shape.

Autumn off to slow start for retailers

Posted on: November 20, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
After briefly picking up over the summer months, retail sales in Alberta dipped again in September as shoppers in the province tightened their purse strings.

Not all jobs are created equally

Posted on: November 19, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The highest and the lowest paid employees in Alberta may not have much in common, but one thing they do share is their total number.

Completed but unsold houses: An Alberta perspective

Posted on: November 18, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
There are worries, particularly in Canada’s largest cities, about the growing number of newly constructed condos that remain unsold. This has raised some red flags about the real estate market in Canada.

New vehicle sales drive forward in September

Posted on: November 17, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Vehicle sales managed to rebound to the highest level of 2015 in September. According to the newest data from Statistics Canada, 23,142 vehicles drove off Alberta’s car lots. That's a 6.6 per cent increase in sales from August.

Manufacturing sales sink lower

Posted on: November 16, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Manufacturing activity in our province slumped to its lowest level in over four years as the sagging energy sector continued to push sales lower.

Rental costs starting to ease

Posted on: November 13, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
One of the items in the basket of consumer goods and services purchased by a typical Alberta household is the cost of rental accommodation.

An unchanged new house price index

Posted on: November 12, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
The price of new homes in Alberta stayed unchanged for the third month in a row, showing further signs that our province’s housing market has softened.

More oil extracted than ever before

Posted on: November 10, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Even though the price of oil dipped to as low as $US 38 (West Texas Intermediate, or WTI) in August, oil extraction in our province was some of the busiest it has ever been.

Housing starts moderate in October

Posted on: November 09, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
New home builders in Alberta were slightly less busy last month, according to the latest data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Housing starts totalled 31,770 in October (adjusted for seasonality and at an annualized rate).

More jobs shed in October

Posted on: November 06, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
While Alberta’s job market performed not badly in the late summer, last month it took a nasty turn for the worse—something that seemed almost inevitable given the layoffs announced in the oilpatch.

It's not just energy producers...

Posted on: November 05, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Climate change was a theme in the most recent federal election and it is a contentious topic at the best of the times. Many place blame solely on energy producers for the effects of climate change, but ...

Canada's trade deficit narrows

Posted on: November 04, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Today’s trade report reveals that Canada’s trade deficit narrowed by $923 million from August to September. The current deficit stands at $1.7 billion. Imports fell by 1.3 per cent while Canadian exports grew slightly (+0.7 per cent).

Lumber prices lifted by falling loonie

Posted on: November 03, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s forestry sector has been seeing some good months lately—it’s been one of the few bright spots in a provincial economy that has been knocked hard by the drop in oil prices.

Fewer consumer bankruptcies in August

Posted on: November 02, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The 2015 energy price downturn has taken a toll on many Alberta families, but so far the financial pain has yet to drive the rate of personal insolvency all that much higher.

Restaurant receipts hit record high

Posted on: October 30, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
After having paused at the start of the year, restaurants and bars in Alberta appear to be doing just fine. According to a recent report from Statistics Canada, sales at food and drink establishments across the province shot up to a new record high.

Wages fall...again

Posted on: October 29, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
In an attempt to fend off the effects of an economic downturn, many businesses in our province have been forced to cut wages. New numbers this morning reveal that employees took another cut in pay in August.

Corn on the rise

Posted on: October 28, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Move over wheat! Step aside, beef! Alberta’s agriculture sector might have a new king in the making. According to Statistics Canada, sweet corn production in the province reached $4.8 million in 2014.

Jobless rate rising for young people

Posted on: October 27, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The tougher job market in Alberta this year has made it more difficult for young people entering the work force. In September, the rate of unemployment for workers aged 15 to 24 was 11.8 per cent, adjusted for seasonality.

Tourism to benefit in 2016

Posted on: October 26, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
As Alberta looks to fend off the impact of low oil prices, some industries in our province will help provide some cushion. Agriculture and forestry are two sectors that will provide some help and another important one is tourism.

Inflation puts the brakes on in September

Posted on: October 23, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta’s inflation rate slowed in September, as the prices for household goods and services moved a little lower. According to this morning’s Consumer Price Index release, average prices in our province rose 1.3 per cent last month.

Alberta retail sales slow but remain positive

Posted on: October 22, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Economic conditions in August caused retail growth to slow during that month. Today’s retail sales figures show that sales edged only a tiny bit higher in August ($6.4 billion, seasonally adjusted), about a tenth of a per cent higher than July.

The importance of small business

Posted on: October 21, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Small business in Alberta is extremely important. Simply put, it's the lifeblood of our economy. It's Small Business Week here in Alberta, which gives us an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the contribution of small businesses across our province.

Wholesale trade shows a bit of wear and tear in August

Posted on: October 20, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Wholesale trade is a main component of business sales and inventories. It represents those businesses which sell to governments, institutions and other businesses and can therefore be a strong determinant of the health of an economy’s retail sector.

Alberta oil extractors busier in July

Posted on: October 19, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
The latest oil supply and disposition figures released from Statistics Canada again showed that Alberta’s oil producers extracted even more crude oil in July despite suppressed oil prices.

Manufacturing looking for a comeback

Posted on: October 16, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Unlike the Toronto Blue Jays who won in the seventh inning on Wednesday, Alberta’s manufacturing sector is waiting to register a comeback after a poor performance this year.

Non-residential investment numbers: Good news for construction sector

Posted on: October 15, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Despite facing a moderate contraction this year, new data shows that Alberta’s construction sector should remain in good shape.

ATB Business Beat: Optimism drops, but businesses still happy

Posted on: October 14, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
ATB Financial’s third quarter Business Beat survey shows a decline in the number of small to medium-sized businesses that believe Alberta’s economy will be stronger in six months.

Self-employment edged up in September

Posted on: October 13, 2015 | Author: Rob Roach
The latest numbers from the monthly Labour Force Survey show that self-employment in Alberta increased by one per cent between August and September. This translates into about 3,800 more Albertans working for themselves.

Jobs surge in September, but labour market remains weak

Posted on: October 09, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Almost as surprising as Alberta’s balmy October weather, Statistics Canada’s latest employment report shows a surge of 12,300 net new jobs in the province last month.

Alberta housing starts continue to endure

Posted on: October 08, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
This morning’s data on housing construction again revealed that Alberta’s real estate market is certainly not crumbling. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s showing resiliency.

Developers pull back on building intentions

Posted on: October 07, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Despite the economic downturn, the level of construction activity has held up quite nicely in Alberta this year. But new data released this morning suggests that, not surprisingly, activity in the future may pull back somewhat.

Canada's trade deficit bumps up in August

Posted on: October 06, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
On the back of becoming a founding member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) yesterday, Canada’s most recent trade numbers were released this morning.

Home renovation spending pulling back

Posted on: October 05, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Making improvements and upgrades to our homes can often be more than just an investment in property values. For many Albertans, home renovations are a hobby and a passion.

Population growth to help economic recovery

Posted on: October 02, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Demographics are one of the most fundamental pieces to the economic puzzle. Without people and the growth of a population, an economy cannot grow.

ATB releases Economic Outlook: Modest recovery by end of 2016

Posted on: October 01, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Today, ATB Financial is releasing its fourth and final Alberta Economic Outlook of 2015. The report provides the latest update on our province’s economy, including a look at what may happen in 2016.

Personal bankruptcies fall from June

Posted on: September 30, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
In spite of job cuts and mounting debt loads in our province, it appears as though Albertans are continuing to meet their debt obligations fairly well.

They keep coming, and coming and coming…

Posted on: September 29, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta might be in recession, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of Canadians from moving here.

Accommodation industry most profitable in Alberta

Posted on: September 28, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta has always been a strong attraction for both business and leisure travellers. As a result, all those hotel and motel operators across the province are the most profitable in the country—or at least that was the case a couple of years ago.

Overtime hours being trimmed

Posted on: September 25, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Yesterday’s Owl showed that average weekly earnings in Alberta are now about 1.2 per cent lower than they were a year ago. Some of that might be due to reductions in hourly wages or salaries. But some of it might be due to fewer hours of overtime worked.

Wages in Alberta start to shrink

Posted on: September 24, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Over the last number of years, employees in Alberta have experienced some of the highest annual pay increases in the country. And, even though Albertans continue to be paid the most for their hard work.

Shoppers pick up the pace in summer

Posted on: September 23, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Perhaps it was the particularly balmy weather this summer, but it seems many Albertans spent some money in the malls, grocery stores and auto dealerships in June and July—recession or not!

Surprise! Oil extraction jumps up

Posted on: September 22, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Contrary to what some might think, the latest oil supply and disposition figures released from Statistics Canada actually show that Alberta’s oil producers bumped up crude extraction levels, instead of halting operations.

Wholesalers less busy in July

Posted on: September 21, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Between the factory floors and the retail shops, an often forgotten stage of value-added in the economy is wholesale trade. Activity here—as in most other parts of Alberta’s economy—has shown a bit of wear and tear.

Inflation pressures still below target

Posted on: September 18, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta shoppers may have noticed slightly higher prices in grocery stores and on bills that come in the mail. But not all prices have been rising in a straight line—in fact, compared to a year ago some prices are falling.

E.I. recipients inch higher in July

Posted on: September 17, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The number of jobless Albertans collecting employment insurance benefits rose in July, consistent with other recent indicators that point towards a cooler job market.

Manufacturing hobbling along in 2015

Posted on: September 16, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
It continues to be a challenging year for many businesses in Alberta, and not only those in oil and gas. Manufacturers in the province have struggled—but at least the most recent statistics suggest they’re managing to achieve some stability.

Self-employment taking a hit

Posted on: September 15, 2015 | Author: Rob Roach
Self-employment in Alberta has been on a downward trend since the start of the year. Self-employment was 5.1 per cent lower in August 2015 than it was in January, and 4.5 per cent lower than last August before oil prices started their slide.

More schooling = more opportunity?

Posted on: September 14, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
While post-secondary students are busy getting back to the books, it won’t be long before they start thinking about full-time jobs and careers. Lucky for them, Statistics Canada just released new data on this subject.

Post-secondary tuition rates still lower in Alberta

Posted on: September 11, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
As the summer draws to a close and the leaves start to turn colour, students in our province are heading back to campus. And while there will be conversations about summer work and holidays, it’s likely the topic of tuition costs will pop up too.

Increased slack in oil and gas

Posted on: September 10, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Canada’s machine shops, refineries, and drilling equipment fell more silent in the second quarter of the year, led by a drop in activity in the oil and gas sector. During April, May, and June, the capacity utilization rate for the country fell.

Building permits show weakness

Posted on: September 09, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Future construction activity in Alberta appears to showing some weakness, according to new building permit numbers released today. Until now, parts of Alberta’s construction sector had been holding up surprisingly well.

Labour statistics may come down to where home is

Posted on: September 08, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
There’s a joke that the second largest city in Newfoundland is Fort McMurray.

Shift in employment masks deeper labour market woes

Posted on: September 04, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
This morning’s highly anticipated Labour Force Survey suggests Alberta’s employment situation isn’t looking too bad. The survey shows a gain of 8,200 full-time jobs in August over July, partially offset by fewer part-time jobs, for a net gain of 4,700.

Lower loonie supporting agricultural exports

Posted on: September 03, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
While troubles in the oil patch are currently dominating headlines, other large sectors of Alberta’s economy are quietly and steadily marching to their own economic drum.

Bankruptcies rising but consumers show resiliency

Posted on: September 02, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
As yesterday’s GDP numbers highlighted, Alberta may be in for a tough slog through 2015. Given this, many people might assume that consumer bankruptcies would be through the roof.

Petroleum sector drags Canada into recession

Posted on: September 01, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
It’s now official. The Canadian economy fulfilled the technical requirements of a recession in the first half of 2015 with a contraction in the gross domestic product (GDP) for two consecutive quarters.

Alberta's restaurant-goers still spending

Posted on: August 31, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
New data released from Statistics Canada this morning confirmed that Albertans are still enjoying their pints and burgers.

Softwood lumber prices signal new housing slowdown

Posted on: August 28, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Despite starting 2015 on a strong note, some lumber producers may have a little more difficulty this year as the price they are receiving for softwood lumber appears to be falling, on the whole.

Paycheques in Alberta vary by industry

Posted on: August 27, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Yesterday’s Owl reported that wage earners in Alberta are likely to see, on average, pay increases of 2.5 per cent next year. But the size of the increase depends on the size of the base salary.

Alberta workers to see smaller pay increases next year

Posted on: August 26, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Over the last several years, wage earners in Alberta have enjoyed some of the highest annual pay increases in the country. But if a recent survey of employers is any indication, the pay hikes in our province next year will start looking pretty ordinary.

Oil bruised after a one-two punch

Posted on: August 25, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Back in the late spring, The Owl reported that both oil prices and optimism appeared to be mounting; and indeed they were. Today, the story is a little different.

Cattle population slides lower

Posted on: August 24, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta beef is known around the world for its top quality and taste. And while the population of cattle in the province still outnumbers 4.1 million humans by a wide margin, the number of bovines has been falling for the last decade.

Retail sales inch higher in June

Posted on: August 21, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta storeowners may have been bracing for a slowdown earlier this summer. But instead of tanking under the pressures of a sluggish economy and anxiety in the petroleum sector, shoppers opened their wallets and purses a wee bit wider.

Employment Insurance beneficiaries jump again in June

Posted on: August 20, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The number of people in Alberta collecting employment insurance benefits in June shot up to 52,160. That is the highest it’s been in almost five years, and a jump of 74 per cent compared to June of 2014.

Young Albertans are rolling up their sleeves

Posted on: August 19, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
It might be to pay tuition next month or perhaps, to buy a new snowboard this winter. Whatever the reason, a high percentage of young people in Alberta are employed and earning their own money.

The race for commercial building projects is neck-and-neck

Posted on: August 18, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Football teams from Alberta’s two major cities will be competing head-to-head on the gridiron on Labour Day. But Edmonton and Calgary are also duking it out for supremacy in commercial building activity—and leaving the rest of the province in the dust.

History repeating itself in Alberta retail sales

Posted on: August 17, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Albertans love their shopping sprees, but the occasional downturn will curtail spending as consumers become more cautious with their dollars. History shows us that retail spending is greatly affected by economic conditions.

Manufacturing showing slow but steady recovery

Posted on: August 14, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
It’s been a difficult year so far for Alberta’s economy, so any bits of good news must be savoured. A small morsel of good economic news came this morning in the monthly report on manufacturing.

Job vacancy rate drops in Alberta

Posted on: August 13, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The number of jobs that are waiting to be filled in Alberta has fallen significantly over the last year, according to the latest Job Vacancy report released this morning by Canada’s national statistics agency.

Alberta’s jobless rate: How does it stack up globally?

Posted on: August 12, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
There’s no question that over the last 12 months the job market in Alberta has deteriorated. The rate of joblessness in the province has risen from a recent low of 4.3 per cent in early 2014 to 6.0 per cent last month.

Less overtime in the energy patch

Posted on: August 11, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
With the recent drop in oil prices, workers in Alberta’s petroleum sector have been hit hard—compared to a year ago, there are more than 24,000 fewer energy-related jobs. But even for those who still have jobs, the number of hours worked is falling.

Alberta’s crops go all over the world

Posted on: August 10, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Last week, The Owl featured a topic on Alberta’s crop exports to the rest of the world. But one Owl reader raised a great question: where, then, do Alberta’s crop exports go?

Energy slump weighs down job market in July

Posted on: August 07, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The weight of low oil prices continued to bear down on Alberta’s job market in July. For the third month in a row, the province lost jobs.

Alberta’s crop exports are truly global

Posted on: August 06, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The United States is the dominant market for most of Alberta’s exports. But when it comes to another important sector in the province, the Americans are further down the list of important buyers. Cereal and oilseed exports go mostly to markets overseas.

Energy exports rise, but other exports remain flat

Posted on: August 05, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
International trade is the economic lifeblood for both Canada’s and Alberta’s economies—and this morning Statistics Canada reported some good news.

Lumber prices perking up this summer

Posted on: August 04, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Forestry is one of Alberta’s key natural resources and the lumber industry has an impact on dozens of cities and communities across our province. And in 2015, it’s one of the few economic drivers of the province enjoying some positive news.

Restaurant and bar sales defy economic downturn

Posted on: July 31, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Perhaps it’s the selection of great new restaurants or maybe simply a lifestyle choice. Whatever the reason, the slower economy in 2015 hasn’t deterred Albertans from spending at restaurants and bars.

Economy weighing on Albertans' earnings

Posted on: July 30, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Several economic indicators in Alberta are showing the effects of the petroleum market slowdown, even if the impact is still moderate. One indicator showing strain is where Albertans may feel it most: in their wallets.

Alberta skies getting busier

Posted on: July 29, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
The latest data appears to suggest more and more families are taking to the skies for their holidays. Whether that means tourists visiting Alberta or people returning home, air passenger traffic in Alberta is growing.

Alberta's entertainment productions fourth in country

Posted on: July 28, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Film, video and television production in Alberta lags behind that of most other provinces. According to new figures released this morning from Statistics Canada, revenue was $119 million in 2013.

Economic optimism improves

Posted on: July 27, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
ATB Financial’s latest Business Beat survey showed a healthy increase in the number of small to medium-sized businesses that believe the Alberta economy will be stronger in six months.

Youth employment in Alberta better than most

Posted on: July 24, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Despite the difficult economy and lost jobs in the oil patch, the labour market for young workers in Alberta is faring better than that of most other provinces.

Retail sales take a step forward in May

Posted on: July 23, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
After a short pause in April, consumers opened their wallets a little more in May when total retail sales reached $6.3 billion. That’s an increase of about 0.4 per cent from April.

Alberta's milk production holds its own

Posted on: July 22, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
It might be known more for beer during Stampede or K-Days, but that’s not the only beverage produced and sold in Alberta. Another product is also big business throughout the province.

Canadians continue to get out and have fun

Posted on: July 21, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
It’s mid-July and many of us are starting to take summer holidays. New annual data released from Statistics Canada shows the Canadian amusement and recreation industry is alive and well.

Wholesale trade drops in May

Posted on: July 20, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
As 2015 grinds on, many monthly indicators suggest Alberta’s economy is weaker compared to a year ago, but that the situation has stabilized. However, new data released this morning might point towards an economy that hasn’t quite finished sliding.

Inflation ticks up in June

Posted on: July 17, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
After three months of little to no price growth in Alberta, prices for household goods and services moved a little higher in June. According to this morning’s Consumer Price Index, average prices in our province rose by 1.7 per cent last month.

Construction activity holding up

Posted on: July 16, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Despite the economic downturn, the roar of bulldozers, jackhammers and cement mixers was just as loud over the second quarter as it’s ever been in Alberta. The total value of non-residential spending was $2.73 billion from April to June.

Manufacturing activity stable in May

Posted on: July 15, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Sales of manufacturing goods in Alberta edged slightly higher in May to $5.8 billion, up a fractional 0.9 per cent from April. While the increase was small, it marked the fifth consecutive month of stability.

Oil extraction and export levels stay the course

Posted on: July 14, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Total crude oil extraction in Alberta fell by more than 11 million barrels (-11.6 per cent) from March to April. Before we sound the alarm, it’s important to note Statistics Canada’s supply and disposition report does not adjust for seasonality.

Alberta home builders split between cities

Posted on: July 13, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
As The Owl reported last week, residential building permits in Alberta have weakened in 2015, dropping in May to one of the lowest levels in three years. A closer look at those numbers reveals some interesting trends across the regions.

Employment slumps in June

Posted on: July 10, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Statistics Canada reported this morning that there were 5,000 fewer Albertans working in June than there were in May. That’s a relatively small decrease, but it is the second month in a row of declines.

Alberta's new house prices show stability

Posted on: July 09, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
The price of new homes in Alberta stayed unchanged for the second month in a row, showing signs that Alberta’s new housing market has softened.

Building permits sending mixed messages

Posted on: July 08, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s construction sector has held up surprisingly well so far this year, defying the expectations of activity grinding to a halt. In fact, employment in construction is up a healthy 5.2 per cent over the last twelve months.

Halfway through 2015: An economic update

Posted on: July 07, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Today, ATB Financial is releasing its latest Alberta Economic Outlook for the third quarter of 2015. This is the most up-to-date portrait of the province’s economy and our economics team’s best estimate of what we can expect for the remainder of this year

Companies planning to invest a bit less this year

Posted on: July 06, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The drop in oil prices has impacted an array of economic indicators in Alberta. But where the decline may be felt the most is in investment in construction, machinery and equipment.

Bankruptcy rates lowest here in Alberta

Posted on: July 03, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
We are now more than a year into the slump in oil prices and the dire warnings of Alberta’s economic collapse. Given the circumstances, one would reasonably conclude that consumer bankruptcies would be skyrocketing by now. But in fact, the opposite is the

Albertans a little hungrier

Posted on: July 02, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
As the crisp temperatures faded away and the trees bloomed, we spent a little more at our favourite bars and restaurants in April.

Alberta: Interprovincial employees

Posted on: June 30, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Over the last couple of years, Alberta’s strong economy has caused workers in other provinces to come searching for opportunity. According to a new Statistics Canada release on paid interprovincial employment in Canada (2002-2011), Alberta played a...

Women and men: Employment in Alberta

Posted on: June 29, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The battle of the sexes plays out in all sorts of cultural arenas. But when it comes to employment gains in Alberta over the last five years, men have gained the edge.

Business optimism in Alberta

Posted on: June 26, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Optimism amongst Alberta’s small and medium sized businesses was again the lowest in the country in June.

Wages perk up

Posted on: June 25, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta workers received a bit of a pay increase in April. According to the most recent figures from Statistics Canada, average weekly earnings in our province rose to over $1,162.12, a marginal increase from the month before.

New housing investment numbers show stable real estate market

Posted on: June 24, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Even though housing starts in Alberta have dropped off, recent data on housing construction investment supports the idea that our province’s housing sector remains stable and is in decent shape.

Lumber-ing along

Posted on: June 23, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Despite some slippage in April, the value of Alberta’s wood manufacturing continues to hold up well above the levels seen in previous years.

Bon voyage! What Albertans would do with a windfall of cash

Posted on: June 22, 2015 | Author: Rob Roach
As part of our effort to figure out what makes Albertans happy, ATB Financial asked Albertans what they would do if they were given a thousand dollars to spend on something that would make them happy.

Retail sales paused

Posted on: June 19, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
After a couple of months of encouraging gains, retail sales in Alberta slipped back a bit in April as shoppers tightened their purse strings.

No rivalry here: Happiness in Calgary and Edmonton

Posted on: June 18, 2015 | Author: Rob Roach
Calgarians and Edmontonians love to point out the (real and perceived) differences between the two cities, but when it comes to happiness, they have a lot in common.

The Alberta happiness advantage

Posted on: June 17, 2015 | Author: Rob Roach
We’ve probably all heard someone say something unkind about Alberta. The recent article in the Globe and Mail about why Edmonton was a bad choice to host the opening of the Women’s World Cup is a case in point.

Money, neighbours and happiness

Posted on: June 16, 2015 | Author: Rob Roach
The correlation between money and happiness is particularly strong when we think of happiness in terms of life satisfaction.

What makes Albertans happy?

Posted on: June 15, 2015 | Author: Rob Roach
When we asked people in ATB's Alberta Happiness Survey what makes them happy on a scale from zero to ten (where ten means extremely important), 40 per cent of us gave supportive relations with family and friends a perfect ten out of ten.

We asked Albertans, how happy are you? Here’s what you told us!

Posted on: June 12, 2015 | Author: Rob Roach
How do we demonstrate that Alberta is a lot more than just a job factory?

Alberta oil extraction heats up

Posted on: June 11, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta’s crude oil extraction is building momentum thanks to the continued stabilization of oil prices. The latest oil supply and distribution numbers show total crude oil extraction increased by just over 7 million barrels.

Jobs in culture and sport lagging national average

Posted on: June 10, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
It’s not all oil rigs and construction sites in Alberta—arts, culture, recreation and sports also play important roles in our economy.

Alberta's Forestry Sector Finishes 2014 Strong

Posted on: June 09, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
While our eyes were fixed on the slide of one particular commodity at the end of 2014, another grew behind the scenes and finished 2014 on a strong note.

Housing starts: steady as she goes

Posted on: June 08, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
If new data on housing construction are any indication, Alberta’s real estate market is certainly not collapsing the way some exaggerated reports would have you believe.

Alberta's labour market down—but certainly not out

Posted on: June 05, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Some employees in Alberta were handed pink slips last month, a likely result of the ongoing economic slowdown which has gripped the province for nearly a year. However, given the current economic environment the labour market is still holding up...

Alberta exports down

Posted on: June 04, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Total exports from our province fell four per cent from March to $7.5 billion in April. Over the last twelve months, Alberta’s sales to the world have slowed significantly.

Albertans least likely to be low income

Posted on: June 03, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
This year is shaping up to be a slow one for Alberta’s economy. Still, growth had been exceptionally strong over the last decade-and-a-half, and that has lifted most people’s wages and wealth.

Alberta spud production is no small potatoes

Posted on: June 02, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Prince Edward Island is usually the province that comes to mind when we talk about potato farming in Canada. However, new numbers show that Alberta should be added to the potato conversation as well.

The most enterprising place on earth!

Posted on: June 01, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
​Anyone who’s been in Alberta for more than 15 minutes quickly notices that it’s pro-business and entrepreneurial. And a new survey gives some statistical proof to the notion that both Canada and Alberta are great places to start a business.

Wages rise but wage growth tells all

Posted on: May 29, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
​In spite of the bruised job market here in Alberta, workers in our province continued to chalk up another increase in take home pay in March.

Farming sets a strong pace in 2015

Posted on: May 28, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
You don’t have to drive too far outside of any major city in Alberta to see it happening almost everywhere: farming. And more evidence has arrived to suggest that agriculture is taking a leading role in the economy this year.

Albertans show off their green thumbs

Posted on: May 27, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
​Many Albertans are embracing May’s heat wave with barbeques and a round (or two) of golf. But there are also lots of us who are welcoming summer by planting our gardens.

Housing construction expected to slow

Posted on: May 26, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
​The pace of new home construction in both Edmonton and Calgary was white-hot last year, coming close to surpassing records set in 2006 and 2007.

Investment in new apartment construction

Posted on: May 25, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
​Residential apartment buildings account for a significant source of housing for many Albertans. Some of these are sold as condominiums and others are built as rental properties.

Retail sales shaking off the economic blues

Posted on: May 22, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Reports of Alberta’s economic demise are highly exaggerated—at least according to the latest report on retail trade. In March, total retail sales jumped to just over $6.4 billion, a 1.1 per cent gain from the previous month. It was the second...

Employment Insurance levels move higher

Posted on: May 21, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
For the third month in a row, Alberta led all provinces in the growth of the number of people collecting regular employment insurance benefits. According to Statistics Canada, there were 38,800 beneficiaries in March, an increase of 8.9 per cent.

Job vacancy rates confirm weaker employment picture

Posted on: May 20, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
New job vacancy numbers confirm that slumping energy prices have taken a toll on jobs in Alberta. Approximately 1.8 per cent of all jobs in our province were vacant in February of this year, down from 2.4 per cent a year ago.

Metal fabrication showing signs of oil slowdown

Posted on: May 19, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
It’s not usually thought of as a manufacturing hub, but Alberta is actually quite a busy place for certain types of fabrication.

Albertans feeling more optimistic about our economy

Posted on: May 15, 2015 | Author: Rob Roach
Some economists are predicting a recession in Alberta, but the results from ATB Financial’s latest Ear to the Ground Survey show that Albertans are starting to feel more, not less, optimistic about the future state of our economy.

New home prices in Calgary and Edmonton

Posted on: May 14, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Prices of new homes in Calgary displayed the largest monthly decrease among any city in the country, according to new numbers from Statistics Canada. With that said, the decline has been minimal.

Despite monthly decline, oil extraction levels stay higher than last year

Posted on: May 13, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
The latest oil supply and distribution numbers from Statistics Canada show that total crude oil extraction in Alberta fell by over eight million barrels (-8.2 per cent) from January to February.

Cattle increasingly mooo-ving south

Posted on: May 12, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta consumers may have noticed rising prices for beef in the grocery store. Those price hikes are part of a larger industry trend in the cattle and beef industry in North America.

The dust continues to settle

Posted on: May 11, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
A month ago, The Owl reported that oil prices seemed to be showing some stability and improvements from their hasty autumn tumble. Since then, it appears as though prices have improved further despite still experiencing routine daily price volatility.

Alberta's job market surprises on the upside in April

Posted on: May 08, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Despite a slowdown in economic activity this year, Alberta’s job market posted a surprisingly strong gain last month. According to the latest Labour Force Survey, total employment increased by 12,500 jobs in April.

Non-residential intentions help boost building permits

Posted on: May 07, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
The total value of building permits issued by Alberta’s cities and towns rose by $133 million in March to $1.3 billion.

Canada's trade deficit grows to record high in March

Posted on: May 06, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Canada’s trade deficit grew to a record $3-billion in March, a gap wider than what many analysts had been anticipating. According to Statistics Canada, imports grew by 2.2 per cent. Exports on the other hand, only grew by nearly half a per cent.

Three cheers for beer!

Posted on: May 05, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Wine consumption in Alberta, as outlined in yesterday’s edition of The Owl, posted a record high of $516 million last year. But Merlot or Chardonnay may not be everyone’s cup of tea... or cup of any beverage for that matter.

Albertans popping more corks

Posted on: May 04, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Be it a nice crisp Pinot Gris or a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, wine consumption in Alberta has increased steadily over the last decade.

Personal bankruptcy numbers show slowdown

Posted on: May 01, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
More Alberta households felt the impact of the economic downturn in February with the rate of personal bankruptcies rising above 2014 levels. This is the first time since 2010 that personal bankruptcies have increased on a year-over-year basis.

Welcome to the work week in Alberta

Posted on: April 30, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Despite softer labour conditions, many Albertans are still putting in longer hours and getting paid more than workers in other provinces. On average, employees in our province worked 30 hours per week in February, with an additional 1.8 hours of overtime.

All that goes unreported: The underground economy

Posted on: April 29, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Although the vast majority of the economy in Canada is perfectly legitimate and measurable, there remains a portion of activity that goes unreported.

Alberta at the top in 2014

Posted on: April 28, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The numbers are in—and for another year Alberta topped all other provinces for economic growth.

Computer prices are falling—at least for some

Posted on: April 27, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
It’s natural for consumers to focus on the prices of items that are going up, and lately there have been some notable increases in things like meat and fresh produce. Other prices are actually falling—but the lower prices may depend on whose making...

New housing investment still highest in Alberta

Posted on: April 24, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Unlike Alberta’s job market, it appears as though our housing sector remains in good shape. The largest year-over-year advancement in new housing construction again occurred in our province in February.

Employment Insurance numbers reflect oil's price fall

Posted on: April 23, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
The results of the last Labour Force Survey signalled that Alberta’s economy is starting to soften. Today’s release on Employment Insurance (EI) reconfirms that our economy is indeed labouring.

Taking care of business and working overtime

Posted on: April 22, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Albertans know how to put in a long workday—and statistically, they work the longest hours per week in the country.

Happiness, a small city advantage

Posted on: April 21, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
More people are flocking to cities with faith that life in the big smoke can provide greater opportunity and economic prosperity. The belief is that this will ultimately create happiness. But moving to a city with the most coffee shops or the biggest...

Backyard barbecues costing big bucks

Posted on: April 20, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
It’s time to put away the hockey gear, skis and snow blowers for another year and break out the barbeque. Albertans love their steaks and cedar-planked salmon almost as much as they like their playoff hockey (umm... sorry Edmonton).

Shoppers pick up the pace in February

Posted on: April 17, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
After a few months of taking a break, Albertans started venturing back into stores, malls and car dealerships in February. Total retail sales in that month were $6.37 billion, adjusted for seasonality.

Non-residential construction stable at start of 2015

Posted on: April 16, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Judging by all of the negative attention paid to Alberta’s economy, one might easily assume that construction activity was grinding to a halt. But that would be wrong. In the first quarter of 2015, there was no sign of that happening.

Canadian businesses recognizing the importance of art

Posted on: April 15, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Recently, Alex Janvier was the first Alberta artist commissioned to create public art for Edmonton’s downtown arena district. At around the same time, conversation sparked in Calgary about the value of public art.

Non-permanent residents in Alberta

Posted on: April 14, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Canada and Alberta have a long history of welcoming international migrants. Waves of permanent settlers—much of them from war-torn Europe in the early 1900s—helped establish a growing population base on the Prairies a century ago. The situation today...

Commercial building permits: A ten-year perspective

Posted on: April 13, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Shiny office towers, hotels and big box shopping centres have cropped up all around Alberta over the last decade. And despite an expected slowdown in new spending this year, our province continues to account for a sizable portion of Canada’s total...

Alberta's job market is holding on...sort of

Posted on: April 10, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The much-hyped collapse of employment in Alberta has yet to materialize, at least statistically. In March, the number of jobs in the province actually edged higher by 1,500 positions—a bit of a surprise given the constant parade of headlines about...

Building permits soften in March

Posted on: April 09, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Construction activity in Alberta is set to slow down in the coming months, according to a new report from Statistics Canada. In February, municipalities throughout the province issued building permits totalling just under $1.19 billion, the lowest ...

Are oil prices showing some stability?

Posted on: April 08, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Albertans were captivated by the enormous plunge in oil prices last fall. And while there is still a good deal of daily price volatility, prices seemed to have settled down a bit in 2015.

Small and mid-sized businesses feel strong ties to oil

Posted on: April 07, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
ATB Financial’s latest Business Beat survey illustrates the strong bond between Alberta’s businesses and oil prices. The latest round of polling asked 624 small and mid-sized businesses to compare the success of their business to the price of oil.

Canadian international trade finishes 2014 strong

Posted on: April 06, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Canada's total merchandise trade (exports plus imports) was $1.05 trillion in 2014, up from $966 billion in 2013. An increase in Canadian exports (+10.3 per cent) caused Canada's annual merchandise trade balance to shift from a deficit of $7.2 billion...

Earnings rise again

Posted on: April 02, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta workers received fatter paycheques in January as they received another considerable increase in take home pay. According to the most recent figures from Statistics Canada, average weekly earnings in our province rose to over $1,170, the highest...

Jobless rate 2015 won't come close to historic highs

Posted on: April 01, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Unfortunately, the slowdown in Alberta’s economy this year means the unemployment rate is set to rise. According to the Alberta Economic Outlook (Q2 2015), released yesterday by ATB Financial, the rate of joblessness in the province is expected to rise...

Alberta's 2015 slowdown

Posted on: March 31, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Today, ATB Financial is releasing its latest Alberta Economic Outlook for the second quarter of 2015. This is the most up-to-date snapshot of the province’s economy and our research team’s best estimate of what we can expect this year.

Forget final exams, what about employment?

Posted on: March 27, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
For many, the prospect of employment can be worrying even at the best of times. And, as the last Labour Force Survey showed, the price of crude is starting to chip away at Alberta’s economy. For students and graduates looking for employment, this may...

Employment insurance levels edge slightly higher

Posted on: March 26, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
More evidence arrived this morning to suggest that Alberta’s labour market is slowing. The number of Albertans collecting regular employment insurance benefits ticked up to 30,960 in January, higher by about two per cent from December.

Footwear prices getting the boot

Posted on: March 25, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Pumps, wedges, wingtips, sneakers... we love them all! And footwear fashionistas in Alberta can rejoice, because the prices for shoes are falling.

Lumber production helps Alberta's forestry sector advance

Posted on: March 24, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta’s forestry sector continued to flex its muscles during the third quarter of last year. Although the total value of lumber, pulp and paper and panelboard manufactured fell over the quarter, the Alberta Forest Products Association reports that...

Alberta and Saskatchewan: A tug-of-war for people

Posted on: March 23, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta and Saskatchewan both became provinces on September 1, 1905. By sharing this day, they could be considered twins. Like many siblings, there’s been some rivalry between the two. And in no area has the competition been fiercer...

Albertans continue to see low price inflation

Posted on: March 20, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Prices for household goods and services in Alberta edged only slightly higher in February, according to this morning’s Consumer Price Index. Average prices rose only 0.9 per cent in the province last month compared to a year earlier.

Wholesale trade starts the year strong

Posted on: March 19, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
After a small drop in sales at the end of last year, Alberta’s wholesalers were a little busier at the start of 2015.

Big bucks for big trucks!

Posted on: March 17, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
There’s no question that Alberta’s economy has started to slow down. But in January of this year, at least, Albertans still seemed to be quite willing to part with their hard-earned dollars on new cars and trucks.

Manufacturing Feels the Squeeze

Posted on: March 16, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta’s refineries, sawmills and factories got off to a rough start this year with sales falling to their lowest point since 2012.

Economic slowdown showing up in job market

Posted on: March 13, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
It’s been expected for some time now—the drop in energy prices finally appears to be taking a toll on workers in Alberta.

Alberta sees oil extraction levels increase in December

Posted on: March 12, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
According to Statistics Canada’s latest oil supply and disposition figures, instead of cutting production as oil prices fell in December, Alberta’s oil producers ramped up extraction and exported more oil from our province in the final month of last year.

Youth job prospects better in Alberta

Posted on: March 11, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Young people looking for their first job or college graduates seeking a start on their career can sometimes feel discouraged. Employers want work experience, but without their first job, experience is out of reach. It’s a common frustration for many.

Home heating in Alberta

Posted on: March 10, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
With this week’s mild temperatures, cranking up the thermostat is probably not top of mind for many Albertans. Even when we do need to cozy up the house, few of us pay much attention to the way we do it—or the fuel that’s required.

Happiness and Alberta's economic slowdown

Posted on: March 09, 2015 | Author: Rob Roach
Not surprisingly, the dark economic clouds caused by low oil prices and the related news about job cuts and the potential for a hole to form in the middle of the provincial government’s finances are reducing the happiness of a large number of Albertans...

Building permits drop significantly in January

Posted on: March 06, 2015 | Author: Rob Roach
Not surprisingly, the dark economic clouds caused by low oil prices and the related news about job cuts and the potential for a hole to form in the middle of the provincial government’s finances are reducing the happiness of a large number of Albertans (3

ATB survey shows continued consumer confidence

Posted on: March 05, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
The results from ATB Financial’s bi-weekly Ear to the Ground survey show Albertans remain confident and level headed when it comes to the current state of our economy.

Canadian economy ends 2014 stronger than expected

Posted on: March 04, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Canada’s gross domestic product grew by 0.6 per cent in the final three months of last year, according to the latest Statistics Canada figures. The pace of growth was slower than rates seen in the previous two quarters, but it still managed to...

Alberta's lumber industry reaches for the sky

Posted on: March 03, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
While Albertans continue to wrestle with news regarding one particular sector, another important industry is stealthily making gains.

Cost of produce on the rise

Posted on: March 02, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
We’re all told to eat our fruits and vegetables each day. For all the health benefits that will bring, it might cause some pain in your wallet.

A mixed bag for farm prices

Posted on: February 27, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Ask Alberta’s farmers how things are looking this year, and you may get a lot of very different answers. Will farm cash receipts improve this year? As an economist would say... it all depends!

New housing investment highest in Alberta

Posted on: February 25, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
The largest year-over-year advancement in new housing construction occurred in Alberta last December. According to the most recent Statistics Canada data, total investment in new residential building construction in our province was up nearly seven...

Cost pressures for oil and gas producers still rising?

Posted on: February 24, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
For all of the attention on the falling price of oil, there’s been surprisingly little focus on the other side of the producer equation: costs. According to one report, producers haven’t been catching much of a break on that front—at least not yet.

Is funding for the arts lagging in Alberta?

Posted on: February 23, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
A conversation has been sparked in Calgary about the value of public art and specifically, how much governments should be expected to fund. But when it comes to public spending on the arts in Alberta—at least from one major source of tax-based funding...

Albertans rein in their shopping

Posted on: February 20, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Last year’s holiday season may have been just as jolly as usual, but Albertans did appear to be a bit more Scrooge-like when it came to their shopping.

Alberta, the hotspot for newcomers

Posted on: February 19, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Every year more migrants move to Alberta in search of greater opportunity; a concept called economic mobility. And while interprovincial migration has largely influenced the surge in our population, international immigration has continued to intensify...

Albertans tops in charitable donations

Posted on: February 18, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta often ranks at the top among the provinces—highest wages, fastest growing cities, highest labour participation rates, etc. It also tops the list on another ranking, this time one that reflects the generosity of its residents.

Food processors seeing rising sales

Posted on: February 17, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Last year closed with some grim forecasts for Alberta’s economy, but quietly in the background certain sectors seem to be gaining momentum. One of those sectors is food manufacturing. The value of food manufacturing in the province topped $1.1 billion...

Calgary and Edmonton still growing fastest

Posted on: February 12, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
For a third consecutive year, the two fastest growing cities in Canada are in Alberta. According to Statistics Canada, Calgary—Canada’s fastest growing city—grew by 3.6 per cent in 2014, while Edmonton grew at 3.3 per cent. As of July 1, 2014,...

Oil extraction remains above last year's levels

Posted on: February 11, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Statistics Canada’s latest data on oil supply and distribution shows that Alberta’s crude producers were holding steady and continued to extract oil back in November.

Prepare for take-off! Alberta's airport traffic ramping up

Posted on: February 10, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
A growing province requires a growing amount of air traffic to keep up with passenger travel and cargo shipments. And certainly both of Alberta’s two largest airports have shown an increase in traffic over the last several years.

Commercial vacancy rates expected to hold steady

Posted on: February 09, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Despite the doom-and-gloom scenarios of economic decline that are bandied about in Alberta, the health of commercial real estate is expected to remain constant in 2015, at least according to one recent forecast.

The cost of engineering services

Posted on: February 05, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s petroleum producers remain fixated on the still-volatile price of crude oil. But far less attention has been paid to the other side of the profit equation: costs—and these have escalated sharply over the past few years.

Refinery product prices starting to fall

Posted on: February 04, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Consumers may be enjoying lower pump prices but prairie petroleum producers are beginning to feel the pinch as the price they received for gasoline, diesel and light fuel all fell sharply in December.

Dining out? Rising prices are on the menu

Posted on: February 03, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Last week we reported in The Owl that Alberta restaurant and bar receipts hit a new record high of $745 million in November (adjusted for seasonality), and that over the last 12-months, total restaurant and bar receipts are up 6.0 per cent.

Alberta's hotel rates continue to climb

Posted on: February 02, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
If you travel for business or just for fun, you may have noticed that Alberta’s hotels and motels are beginning to take a bigger bite out of your wallet. According to new accommodation numbers released by Statistics Canada, our province’s room rates...

GDP takes a tumble in November

Posted on: January 30, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Canada’s economic output shrank in November of last year, the second largest dip in almost a year. Statistics Canada reported this morning that real gross domestic product—the sum of all of the goods and services produced in the economy—contracted by...

Restaurant receipts levelling off

Posted on: January 29, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Aside from watching Calgary win the Grey Cup in November, a lot of Albertans were busy with one of their other favourite pastimes: eating and drinking at their local restaurant, pub or fast food joint. And while the monthly increase was small, it was...

Albertans the big spenders

Posted on: January 28, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Each month Statistics Canada reports on average weekly earnings in the country, and those figures show Albertans earn by far the most among the provinces. But another report that comes out only once a year shows that not only do Albertans earn the...

Business optimism tracked in ATB survey

Posted on: January 27, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
According to ATB Financial’s latest Business Beat survey, Alberta’s businesses are starting to feel the impact of low oil prices and a sinking loonie. Last quarter, the ATB Economy index—a tool that measures economic optimism among our province’s...

Inflation puts on the brakes

Posted on: January 26, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Consumer prices in Alberta decelerated in November marking one of the lowest inflation rates in almost a year. According to the latest inflation report from Statistics Canada, prices in our province grew by 1.9 per cent compared to December of 2013.

Retail sales regress

Posted on: January 23, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Statistics Canada says Alberta retailers rang up sales of $6.6 billion in November (adjusted for seasonality), a microscopic drop (-0.6 per cent) from October.

Employment insurance levels inch higher

Posted on: January 22, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
The number of Albertans collecting federal employment insurance benefits rose slightly in November, up to 28,980. That’s nearly 300 more people from October. Still, according to Statistics Canada, there are 3.2 per cent fewer Albertans receiving...

Wholesale trade reaches new heights

Posted on: January 21, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Statistics Canada reports this morning that total wholesale trade reached $7.2 billion in November (seasonally adjusted), a new record for Alberta. And over the last 12-months, wholesale trade in our province is up eight per cent.

Lumber prices looking good in 2015

Posted on: January 20, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
While Albertans seem fixated on a certain commodity price that’s been tumbling lately, there’s some good news in other natural resource industries in the province. With a little help from our American friends and a favourable exchange rate, lumber...

How do you feel?

Posted on: January 19, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
The holidays have come and gone and like most Albertans you’re probably back in the thick of it at work. Let’s not forget about those holiday credit card bills; they’re probably starting to flood in as well. And the weather? In many parts of our...

Non-residential construction steady at end of 2014

Posted on: January 16, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
A slowdown may well be in the cards for Alberta’s construction sector. But in the fourth quarter of last year those bulldozers, cement trucks and cranes were still as busy as ever.

What US$50 oil means for producers

Posted on: January 15, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
As some energy companies announce cuts to their capital spending plans, it is now apparent that oil’s low price is starting to take a toll on some of Alberta’s oil producers. But, are these companies in real trouble and is US$50 oil actually sustainable?

Not all forecasts see Alberta's economy the same way

Posted on: January 14, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
With oil prices plummeting in recent months, there’s been intense interest in how Alberta’s economy will fare in 2015. Although economists wished we had a crystal ball, we have to settle for our best guesses and insights to forecast how things may turn...

New housing: Investment intentions stay strong

Posted on: January 13, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
Investment in new housing construction reached the second highest level on record in Alberta last October. Statistics Canada reports that investment totalled close to $1.1 billion, a 23 per cent increase from 2013.

Home construction easing up

Posted on: January 12, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Last week’s labour force survey didn’t show any signs of a jobs slowdown in Alberta—but a bit of a different picture could be painted on the home construction front.

Alberta's job market defies oil price plunge

Posted on: January 09, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The rumours of the death of jobs in Alberta have been greatly exaggerated—at least so far. Despite crude oil hovering around $US 55 a barrel in December, our province actually saw a reasonable increase in employment.

Slow and steady for 2015

Posted on: January 08, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
It’s not surprising that a reduction in the price of oil has made ATB Financial’s Economic Outlook of interest to so many Albertans. Released this week, it summarizes research collected on our province’s most important sectors, covering the first...

Bankruptcies still well below 2013 levels

Posted on: January 07, 2015 | Author: Nick Ford
The majority of Alberta’s households managed to stave off the effects of oil’s price plunge in October with the rate of personal bankruptcies continuing to stay well below 2013 levels.

Farming costs on the rise

Posted on: January 06, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Agriculture has been one of the leading sectors in Alberta’s economy over the past few years, helped out by generally strong livestock and commodity prices. But the price received by the farmer is only one half of the equation. The cost of farming is...

Unemployment rates in 2015

Posted on: January 05, 2015 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s unemployment rate in November was 4.5 per cent, a rate considered healthy and balanced. But as low oil prices start to grip the labour market in 2015, it’s anticipated that the unemployment rate will start to rise. What can we expect?

Shoppers keeping up the pace

Posted on: December 19, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Malls, grocery stores and car dealerships across Alberta continued to see steady streams of shoppers in October, according to the latest report from Statistics Canada. Retailers rang in just under $6.7 billion in sales, matching the record high hit in...

Vacancy rates inch higher

Posted on: December 18, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Apartment vacancy rates edged higher in October in both Edmonton and Calgary according to the fall rental market reports released by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

New vehicle sales stay the course

Posted on: December 17, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Vehicle sales have managed to stay unblemished amid all the sour economic news, according to new data from Statistics Canada. October sales remained well above 2013 levels. The number of cars and trucks driving off Alberta lots was seven per cent...

Manufacturing advances for second straight month

Posted on: December 16, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
With so much focus on the price of crude oil, it’s easy to overlook Alberta’s manufacturing industries where activity actually picked up in the fall.

Education levels linked to employment

Posted on: December 15, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The link between education levels and employment is well understood—the longer you stay in school, the better your chances are of landing a job. New numbers from Statistics Canada provide some data to support this idea, underscoring the importance of...

Oil production not faltered by price

Posted on: December 12, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta’s crude oil producers don’t seem too troubled by the plethora of news stories and business columns detailing oil’s price plunge, at least according to new Statistics Canada data on oil supply and distribution.

Many Albertans struggling with low income

Posted on: December 10, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
It’s a festive time of year—and for many Albertans that means holiday shopping, fancy parties and plenty to eat and drink. But for many others, the merry spirit of the season may be crushed simply by the worry of making ends meet.

Building permits march on

Posted on: December 09, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
The value of building permits issued by Alberta’s municipalities rose by $87 million in October to $1.6 billion, according to new figures released by Statistics Canada. The increase from September was due in large part to the rise in the value of...

Nearly three-quarters of us 'participate'

Posted on: December 08, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
If you’re an Albertan over the age of 15, you’re more likely to participate in the labour market than other Canadians, according to data collected as part of Statistics Canada’s monthly job market survey.

Jobs report shakes off falling energy prices

Posted on: December 05, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
If plummeting oil prices are expected to bring waves of layoffs in Alberta, it appears that companies in the province haven’t bought into the panic—at least not yet. In fact, last month the number of jobs in our province actually increased.

Personal bankruptcy numbers declining

Posted on: December 04, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Across the country, the number of personal bankruptcies continued to decrease in September, with Alberta, once again, posting the largest decline over the past year.

Home renovators take a summertime break

Posted on: December 03, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The proliferation of home renovation shows on TV may be an inspiration for some people to remodel their kitchen or add onto the family room. But last summer, it seems Albertans were perhaps spending more time watching TV than actually renovating.

Take heart, weary Christmas shopper!

Posted on: December 02, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
If you’re heading out this week to do some Christmas shopping, you may be discouraged by the parking and crowds of people. However, you can take heart in knowing that the items you’ll be purchasing probably cost less money than they did 30 years ago.

The rise of the foodie

Posted on: December 01, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta’s restaurants and bars cashed in strongly at the end of the summer. According to the latest Statistics Canada report, restaurants and bars in our province generated total receipts of $740 million (seasonally adjusted) in September—the second...

Forestry sector making gains

Posted on: November 28, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta’s forestry sector posted steady gains during the second quarter of this year. According to the Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA), the total value of lumber, pulp and paper and panelboard manufactured by the group’s members reached $728...

Paycheques in our province

Posted on: November 27, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Plenty of opportunities in Alberta have attracted thousands of job seekers over the past few years. But not all jobs—or paycheques—are created equal.

Livestock farmers take the lead in Q3

Posted on: November 26, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Even though Alberta’s wheat and canola producers are seeing a slight dip in cash receipts compared to the record highs set in 2013, things aren’t all that bad down on the farm—especially on farms with livestock.

Oil price turbulence not rattling Alberta shoppers

Posted on: November 25, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
If lower oil prices are a potential problem for Alberta’s economy, they don’t appear to be slowing down shoppers in our province.

Employment insurance levels edge higher

Posted on: November 24, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
More Albertans collected federal employment insurance (E.I.) in September than in August—with 220 more people receiving payments (a 0.8 per cent increase). Over the past year, the number of Albertans collecting E.I. has fallen by four per cent.

Alberta's inflation ramps up

Posted on: November 21, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The year-over-year increase of consumer prices in Alberta has shot up to one of its highest month rates in more than four years. According to the latest Statistics Canada report on inflation, prices in October rose by three per cent compared to a year...

Wholesale trade moves to record high

Posted on: November 20, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Tracking the retail sales of stores and restaurants gives one indication of economic vitality, but another good measure is the amount of merchandise that the stores themselves have been purchasing. Wholesale trade, which is the sales activity before...

The long run looks good for Alberta

Posted on: November 19, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
In late October, Goldman Sachs’ US$75 oil prediction took the media by storm. Since then, oil has been the topic of conversation, from news headlines to dinner parties.

New vehicle sales remain healthy

Posted on: November 18, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta’s new vehicle sales rebounded in September by six per cent, after a small sales drop in August.

Office tower costs escalating

Posted on: November 17, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Consumers in Alberta often grumble about the rising prices for food, rent or other items they regularly purchase. And while the prices for many items in the basket of consumer goods and services have risen, most of them pale in comparison to the cost...

Manufacturing inches higher

Posted on: November 14, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Refineries, factory floors and sawmills picked up a bit in September and that helped the province regain some of the drop in manufacturing experienced over the summer months.

Alberta's personal bankruptcies still falling fastest

Posted on: November 13, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Personal bankruptcy in Alberta nearly reached its lowest point in almost 25 years in August, according to the latest statistics from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcies.

Employment growth has been about quantity and quality

Posted on: November 10, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The strong jobs report on Friday of last week helped ease the concern that Canada’s economy is stuck in low gear. The country has now had two consecutive months of healthy job growth. And regionally, both the quantity and the quality of new jobs is...

More jobs added last month

Posted on: November 07, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s jobs market kept chugging along in October with a moderate but positive gain of 3,300 (new) jobs. But while the total number of jobs added last month was only moderate, what was more impressive was the quality of the new employment.

Calgary has the lowest tax on capital investment

Posted on: November 06, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
According to a new report published by the C.D. Howe institute, Calgary-based businesses have the lowest overall tax burden on capital investment in Canada.

Alberta's hot housing market expected to cool

Posted on: November 05, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
The frenzied housing environment in both Edmonton and Calgary is expected to moderate over the next two years according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) most recent Fall Housing Market...

Vive la France!

Posted on: November 04, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
It was a symbolic yet powerful message this week when the President of France François Hollande touched down in Calgary and headed to the Banff Springs Hotel for a state luncheon.

Chemical industry still rebuilding

Posted on: November 03, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The value of chemical manufacturing in Alberta has been trending higher lately, helping diversify the province’s economic base. But while chemical production is indeed up over the last couple of years, a longer term view tells a different story.

A spooky special edition

Posted on: October 31, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
They’re at every Halloween party, that creative gal or the cute couple that constructs an eye-popping, original costume. But, if you’re anything like the majority of Halloween-goers, you probably purchased your getup from a costume shop.

Albertans still earning the most

Posted on: October 30, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s hot job market continues to lure thousands of job seekers from across the country and around the world. But while job opportunities are plentiful, it’s also the fat paycheques that are attracting workers.

Time to turn up the heat!

Posted on: October 29, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
It’s not even Halloween, but already Albertans are bracing for the onset of winter and colder weather. With those frigid temperatures come higher home heating costs, and most homes in the province are heated with natural gas.

Alberta retail sales tell interesting story

Posted on: October 28, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
The newest Statistics Canada data reveal that Alberta’s retail sales numbers remained virtually unchanged from August’s record-setting month to September.

Fewer vehicles pull out of Alberta's dealerships in August

Posted on: October 27, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Auto dealerships were a little less busy in August as new vehicle sales slipped six per cent from July.

Who needs workers?

Posted on: October 24, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Labour shortages—or at least the perception of them—are a hot topic for Alberta’s employers. But are these labour shortages real, or are they mostly myth?

Fewer E.I. cheques issued in August

Posted on: October 23, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The number of Albertans collecting federal employment insurance benefits dipped again in August, falling to 28,490. That’s down by 360 people from July.

August's wholesale numbers pick up again

Posted on: October 22, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
After July’s slight decline, wholesale figures rebounded marginally in August to 7.1 billion (adjusted for seasonality) according to Statistics Canada.

Alberta's R&D spending trails Ontario and Quebec

Posted on: October 21, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Research and development is essential to productivity and economic growth. Curiously, despite Alberta’s strong labour market and entrepreneurial spirit, our R&D spending falls slightly below the national average.

Unfilled jobs vary across sectors

Posted on: October 20, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
As many economic indicators in Alberta suggest, the job market in this province is still in extremely healthy shape. But when it comes to looking for a job, not all opportunities are created equally.

Inflation picks up

Posted on: October 17, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Not only did shoppers in Alberta face slightly higher prices in September than a year ago, the rate of increase is outpacing that in the rest of the country.

Alberta manufacturers singing the summertime blues

Posted on: October 16, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Oil refineries and manufacturing shops across Alberta were all a bit quieter at the end of summer, according to new information from Statistics Canada.

Who's getting a pay raise in 2015?

Posted on: October 15, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
It’s been a great year for Alberta’s economy, and that’s being reflected in some nice fat paycheques. But what are employers thinking when it comes to next year’s salary adjustments?

Wages keeping pace with prices at the pump

Posted on: October 14, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Expressing frustration over rising gasoline prices is a long-loved ritual in Alberta. But taking a long term view, working Albertans may not have much to complain about.

Job market roars back to life in September

Posted on: October 10, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
After shedding jobs over the summer, Alberta’s labour market was back in high gear at the beginning of fall.

Housing construction continues at strong pace

Posted on: October 09, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Home builders in Alberta ended the summer of 2014 on a high note when construction started on a near record number of new homes.

Alberta's building permits continue to impress

Posted on: October 08, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
According to Statistics Canada, Alberta’s cities and towns issued a total of $1.8 billion in building permits in August, a three per cent increase from July.

Livestock prices uneven in August

Posted on: October 07, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Prices for Alberta’s two largest livestock commodities moved in different directions at the end of the summer, according to the latest Farm Price Index from Statistics Canada.

Hotel accommodation rates on the rise in Alberta

Posted on: October 06, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Staying in a hotel in Alberta is getting more expensive. The cost has been edging up over the last few years.

Exports slide in August

Posted on: October 03, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
This morning’s report on trade from Statistics Canada shows exports from Alberta tumbled in August.

Alberta's economy to remain strong

Posted on: October 02, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The pace of economic expansion in Alberta is expected to remain solid throughout the rest of the year and into 2015, according to the latest quarterly outlook from ATB Financial’s economics group.

Alberta records lowest rate of personal bankruptcy

Posted on: October 01, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
New homes, fancy cars, expensive clothes—Albertans are in a spending mood these days. Household debt levels are near record highs. Still, there's evidence that Albertans are managing their debt well.

Restaurants and bars see more brisk business in July

Posted on: September 30, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Whether it’s a pizza joint, steak house, or sushi bar—Albertans are gobbling up far more per capita than diners anywhere else in Canada.

Alberta attracts even more fellow Canadians

Posted on: September 29, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Job seekers from other provinces are ensuring Alberta continues to have the fastest growing population in Canada by a considerable measure.

Oil by train booming in the West

Posted on: September 26, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
The number of railcars carrying oil through Western Canada increased in July, according to Statistics Canada’s most recent railway carloadings release.

Albertans working long hours

Posted on: September 25, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Albertans are known for working long hours, but according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada, employees in another province clock in about 54 minutes more per week.

Potential labour shortage brewing

Posted on: September 24, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Business confidence amongst Alberta’s small and medium-sized businesses took a slide last quarter, according to ATB Financial’s most recent Business Beat Survey.

Retail trade reaches new record

Posted on: September 23, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
The cacophony of cash registers rang a little louder across the province this July, sounding a new record in retail trade for Alberta.

Wholesaler activity slides for the first time this year

Posted on: September 22, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta’s wholesale figures fell following a record-breaking June, marking the first decrease since December 2013. Statistics Canada reports that sales by Alberta’s wholesalers dipped to $7.1 billion.

Inflation steady in August

Posted on: September 19, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Prices for Alberta’s consumers rose 2.5 per cent last month compared to a year ago, according to this morning’s Consumer Price Index from Statistics Canada. That’s the very same level of annual increase posted in July.

Number of EI beneficiaries drops in July

Posted on: September 18, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The number of Albertans collecting federal employment insurance benefits dipped in July. There were 28,520 people receiving cheques, down nearly 1,300 from June.

Alberta's population projected to climb

Posted on: September 17, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The number of people living in Alberta will grow no matter what, according to the latest population projections by Statistics Canada.

Alberta physicians paid less in 2013

Posted on: September 16, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta doctors experienced a drop in salary for the first time in nearly a decade, according to the 2013 annual summary from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

Housing demand lifting lumber prices

Posted on: September 15, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
This year’s stabilization of lofty North American lumber prices is putting smiles on the faces of mill owners around Alberta.

Post-secondary costs lower in Alberta

Posted on: September 12, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
University students are back in the classroom. One thing they’re likely to talk about is the rising costs of education. Tuition fees are steep across the country, but students in Alberta are getting a relatively good deal.

New home prices differ in Edmonton and Calgary

Posted on: September 11, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The rivalry between the Oilers and the Flames hasn’t even started for the season, but Alberta’s two cities are already battling it out—and this time, new home buyers in Edmonton are gaining the advantage.

Oil and gas producers busier in second quarter

Posted on: September 10, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
More oil and gas rigs, drilling equipment and heavy transportation vehicles were being used in the spring of 2014 compared to earlier quarters.

Alberta's oil hovers closer to benchmark WTI

Posted on: September 09, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
The price of crude oil—as tracked by the benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI)—has fallen to just below $95 (U.S.) per barrel lately. But the price many Alberta producers receive for their heavier quality oil has started to increase.

Building activity remains strong

Posted on: September 08, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The cranes, bulldozers and cement trucks working on construction sites around the province aren’t going away any time soon, according to data released this morning from Statistics Canada.

Alberta's job market takes a hit

Posted on: September 05, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Employment in Alberta cooled in August, marking the second month of decline and the largest single month of losses in more than five years.

Alberta's exports lift national total

Posted on: September 04, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Earlier in 2014, exports were flat and failing to contribute to Canada’s economic growth. But lately, Alberta has been picking up the slack.

Alberta's business optimism improves

Posted on: September 03, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Optimism amongst Alberta’s small and medium sized businesses improved in August, according to the latest Business Barometer survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Personal bankruptcies ebb in June

Posted on: September 02, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Albertans may be taking on personal debt in record volumes in 2014, but most appear to be managing their higher debt loads.

Economy back on track in spring

Posted on: August 29, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
After a shaky start to the year, the Canadian economy roared to life in the second quarter of 2014. The latest figures of total economic output from Statistics Canada showed that the economy grew by 3.1 per cent during the months of April, May and June.

Alberta employees see big jump in earnings

Posted on: August 28, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta wage earners racked up another sizeable increase in take home pay in June. According to the most recent data from Statistics Canada, average weekly earnings in this province rose to over $1,156.

Business optimism strong in Alberta

Posted on: August 27, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s small- and medium-sized businesses remain optimistic about future sales. They’re also feeling more confident in the future of the provincial economy.

Record year for gasoline sales in 2013

Posted on: August 26, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta gasoline sales reached new heights in 2013, according to the most recent Statistics Canada data on gasoline and petroleum fuels. Nearly 6.2 billion litres of gasoline were sold.

Hog prices on the decline

Posted on: August 25, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Prices are on the decline in Alberta. Last week, the price of pork fell from $2.360/kg to $2.240/kg, posting the biggest drop this year.

Inflation picks up in Alberta

Posted on: August 22, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Consumers in Alberta saw prices rise, on average, at a faster pace in July than they did in June, according to this morning’s Consumer Price Index report from Statistics Canada.

Not all unemployed collect benefits

Posted on: August 21, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The number of Albertans collecting employment insurance (E.I.) in June was essentially unchanged from May. At 29,110, the number continues a two-year trend of staying close to 30,000.

Wholesale trade rockets to record high

Posted on: August 20, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The value of sales by Alberta wholesalers topped $7 billion in June, according to the latest numbers released this morning from Statistics Canada.

Alberta's R&D spending on the rise

Posted on: August 19, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta companies stepped up the spending on research and development (R&D) in 2012, according to the latest report on enterprise characteristics from Statistics Canada.

Manufacturing on a tear in June

Posted on: August 18, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The value of manufacturing shipments in Alberta reached a new record high in June at just under $7 billion, adjusted for seasonality. According to the latest numbers from Statistics Canada, manufacturing racked up $6.925 billion in sales in June...

Alberta's job market takes a breather in July

Posted on: August 15, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Employment levels in Alberta showed little change in July, according to a revised labour force survey released this morning by Statistics Canada. Part-time employment rose by 9,000 positions, almost enough to offset a drop in full-time employment...

Calgary new home prices outpacing Edmonton's

Posted on: August 14, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
It continues to be a tale of two cities in Alberta when it comes to the price of a new home—and the tales in Edmonton and Calgary couldn’t be more different.

Office building costs rising steadily

Posted on: August 13, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s two major cities are enjoying some strong activity in non-residential construction, much of it in office buildings. This skyline transformation comes with a hefty price tag.

Alberta housing starts return to normal in July

Posted on: August 12, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
After an unusual spike in June, Alberta’s new housing starts are settling down to a level much more consistent with the long term trend.

Small businesses account for large share of total

Posted on: August 11, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Major corporations in energy, transportation and utilities are often what come to mind when people think of business in Alberta. But while large companies dominate the skylines in Edmonton and Calgary, they actually account for a tiny fraction of the...

New vehicle sales hit three year high

Posted on: August 08, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Automobile purchases in Alberta increased yet again over the last couple of months to reach a three year high. According to the latest Statistics Canada data, 26,584 new vehicles were sold in May, making up 13.4 per vent of the national total.

Power prices fall to 12 year lows

Posted on: August 07, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
The cost of electricity in Alberta has bounced around over the last few years. But the most recent survey of consumer prices suggests Albertans are paying about the same for electrical power as they did more than a decade ago.

Ratio of part-time jobs lower in Alberta

Posted on: August 06, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s labour market has been the job factory of the country over the last year. According to Statistics Canada, the province added 81,800 jobs between June 2013 and June 2014. Canada, as a whole, added just 72,300.

Alberta's unemployment rate globally impressive

Posted on: August 05, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta is the envy of Canada, at least when it comes to finances. Our economy leads the nation, particularly in job creation and a low unemployment rate. Alberta’s unemployment rate currently sits at 4.9 per cent, holding second place behind...

Cattle prices continue to rise

Posted on: August 01, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
It’s peak grilling season and you may have noticed yourself double checking the price of that rib eye at the supermarket. That’s because cattle prices have hit extreme highs lately.

Housing starts by region reveal population trends

Posted on: July 31, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Canada’s new housing starts have mirrored the trends in interprovincial migration over the last decade, as well as growth in provincial GDP. This is to be expected, somewhat.

Less spare capacity in oil and gas extraction

Posted on: July 30, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Canadian industries were operating at a slightly higher level of activity in the first quarter of this year. But most sectors pale in comparison to the fever pitch of oil and gas extraction.

Grain and oilseed prices dip

Posted on: July 29, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Canadian grain and oilseed farmers are hoping for better news on the horizon. After a gang-buster year for both production and price in 2013, this summer is sewing its share of disappointments.

Research and development funding on the rise

Posted on: July 28, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s postsecondary institutions are receiving and spending more money on research and development (R&D) than they were ten years ago. According to Statistics Canada, total R&D spending in the sciences was $1.26 billion in 2012-13.

Trades people's wages rising slower than average

Posted on: July 25, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The shortage of work for skilled trades people in Alberta has pushed wages higher over the last decade. Unionized wages have been on the rise—although not as dramatically as one might expect.

Alberta family incomes lead the country

Posted on: July 24, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Families in Alberta’s two largest cities are enjoying the highest household incomes in the country. Looking at data from personal income tax returns, Statistics Canada determined Calgary had the highest median total family income (before tax) of all...

Retail sales inch higher in May

Posted on: July 23, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta shoppers filled their carts a bit more in May than they did in the previous month, stopping just short of the record-setting month they had in March.

Job vacancy rates differ across sectors

Posted on: July 22, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The percentage of jobs left unfilled is higher in Alberta than in any other province, according to the latest job vacancy report released this morning by Statistics Canada.

Forestry shipments continue to climb

Posted on: July 21, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta’s forestry sector gained momentum in the first three months of this year, according to the latest financial report from the Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA).

Albertans still lead when it comes to dining out

Posted on: July 04, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Albertans have solidified their lead over other provinces in the amount of money they spend eating out each month. Statistics Canada reports that total receipts from eating and drinking establishments were $728.1 million dollars (seasonally adjusted)...

Sales of non-energy exports reach post-recession high

Posted on: July 03, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The value of Alberta’s international exports rose to $10.52 billion in May, thanks partly to higher sales of agricultural, forestry and other non-energy products. The slight increase over April represents one of the highest amounts in the last five...

Personal bankruptcies falling fastest in Alberta

Posted on: July 02, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Personal bankruptcies are declining throughout Canada, according to the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB). And no where are they falling faster than in Alberta.

Alberta's Heritage Fund earns $2.1 billion

Posted on: June 27, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta’s long-term savings fund earned a record net income of $2.1 billion in 2013-2014. Created in 1976 as a way to save resource revenue for future generations, the Heritage Fund now has $17.5 billion in net assets (fair value) and earns a 16.0...

Alberta earnings continue to rise

Posted on: June 26, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Paycheques of Alberta employees rose to another record high in April as companies and businesses feel the pressure of labour shortages. Statistics Canada reports the average weekly earnings of employees in the province rose to $1,141.70 in April, up...

Albertans bit by travel bug

Posted on: June 25, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Albertans are becoming increasingly interested in world travel. According to new Statistics Canada data, the number of Canadian residents returning to Alberta from foreign destinations reached a record high in April of 337,951 people.

Edmonton businesses pay less

Posted on: June 24, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Edmonton-based businesses pay lower taxes than their counterparts in any other city in Canada, according to a new report from KPMG. The Competitive Alternatives 2014: Focus on Tax report analyzed 107 cities in 10 nations. Of the 15 Canadian...

Albertans top the country in cell phone use

Posted on: June 23, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
More households in Alberta have cell phones than in any other province in Canada. According to new survey numbers from Statistics Canada, 91 per cent of homes in the province have at least one mobile phone.

Inflation moderates in Alberta but picks up nationally

Posted on: June 20, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The price of consumer goods is on the rise this spring. According to Statistics Canada, Albertans paid 2.5 per cent more for items in May than they did a year previous.

Alberta employment insurance numbers stabilize

Posted on: June 19, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The number of Albertans collecting regular employment insurance (E.I.) benefits fell this spring. According to Statistics Canada, there were 29,280 beneficiaries in the province in April. That figure, adjusted for seasonality, is down very slightly...

Alberta population growth fastest in Canada

Posted on: June 18, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s population continues to grow at a rate far faster than the national average. According to new estimates released this morning by Statistics Canada, the province’s population on the first day of April this year was 4,111,509.

Energy provinces see higher value shipments per worker

Posted on: June 17, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Ontario and Quebec may be the industrial manufacturing heartland of Canada but both fall below other less likely provinces in terms of the dollar value of manufacturing per employee.

Canada's wheat goes global

Posted on: June 16, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Canada produces much more grain than the country can consume, so much of our wheat is sold to the rest of the world. According to Statistics Canada, Canada’s international wheat exports totalled 16.4 million tonnes between May 2013 and April 2014.

Singing the homebuyer blues

Posted on: June 13, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
People looking to purchase an existing home in Calgary or Edmonton might be feeling irritated and discouraged. There isn’t a lot on the market these days and what is available is going up in price.

Calgary office development leads the country

Posted on: June 12, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Calgary now has the biggest office development market in Canada, according to a recent real estate report by Avison Young. With almost 8.9 million square feet, Calgary surpassed Toronto for first place in 2013.

High school graduates earning more

Posted on: June 11, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
High school graduates often pursue a post-secondary education in the hopes of landing bigger paycheques in the future. But here in Alberta, the earnings of people who choose to work right out of high school are starting to catch up with their more...

Alberta absenteeism lowest in Canada

Posted on: June 10, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Workers in Alberta took the fewest days off last year. According to Statistics Canada, the total number of days taken per worker in 2013 was just 7.7. New Brunswick and PEI had the highest at 10.7. Nationally, the number of days lost per worker was 9.1...

Alberta's employment market bounces back

Posted on: June 09, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
After a minor drop of 2,900 jobs in April, Alberta’s economy showed a strong rebound in May with the addition of 16,400 new jobs (a 0.7 per cent increase from April). This increase helped the province’s unemployment rate fall a tenth of a percentage...

Vacancy rates pushing rental prices higher

Posted on: June 05, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
A strong employment environment and positive migration numbers are driving Alberta's apartment vacancy rates down.

International travellers picking Alberta

Posted on: June 04, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta is becoming an increasingly popular choice with travellers from abroad. With the first day of summer just around the corner, many are making their final plans to visit Wild Rose Country over the next few months.

Alberta's new housing price divide

Posted on: June 03, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta’s housing market is a tale of two cities. Since March of 2009, Calgary’s new house and land prices have increased 19.7 and 30.7 per cent, respectively. The story is a bit different in Alberta’s capital.

Alberta business optimism rises in May

Posted on: June 02, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Alberta's small and medium-sized businesses were feeling more optimistic last month. According to the latest Business Barometer survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), confidence was higher in May than it was all of last year.

National economic output slows in Q1

Posted on: May 30, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Growth in Canada’s economy slumped during the first quarter of the year to less than half the pace of the previous quarter. It is the slowest it's been in more than a year.

Earnings in Alberta keep rising

Posted on: May 29, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Weekly earnings in Alberta are the highest they've been in almost a year, according to a report released this morning from Statistics Canada.

Mixed first quarter results for farmers

Posted on: May 28, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta farm cash receipts reached nearly $3.2 billion in the first three months of this year. That’s not quite a record, but still the third highest quarter in the province’s history.

Alberta could move up the population ranks

Posted on: May 27, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The population rankings of Canada’s provinces rarely change. The last time it happened was 52 years ago when Manitoba overtook Saskatchewan's place as the fifth most populous province. If current trends continue, the rankings will be rewritten again...

Alberta takes second place in resource employment

Posted on: May 26, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s rich resource sectors keep thousands of workers happily employed. According to Statistics Canada, more than 10.5 per cent of the province’s workers have jobs in agriculture, oil and gas, fishing, mining and forestry.

Pace of consumer inflation eases in Alberta

Posted on: May 23, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The rate of annual price increases for Albertans fell in April to 2.7 per cent, according to this morning’s release of the Consumer Price Index. That’s down from a multi-year high of 3.9 per cent recorded in March. Nationally, the rate of inflation was 2.

Retail trade rises to another high

Posted on: May 22, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Shoppers in Alberta opened their wallets wide in March—wide enough to vault spending to another record high.

Female business operators in Alberta younger than males

Posted on: May 21, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Female entrepreneurs in Alberta tend to be younger than their male counterparts, according to a recent study of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Alberta.

Managing cash flow during slower months

Posted on: May 20, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The latest ATB Business Beat survey shows small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are using a variety of methods to manage their finances. SMEs are the lifeblood of Alberta’s economy—in many smaller towns and cities, they are the primary source...

Hog prices on the rise

Posted on: May 16, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Hog prices in Alberta reached record highs in March of this year, according to Statistics Canada’s regular monthly report on farm commodity prices.

Rising prices boost manufacturing numbers

Posted on: May 15, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Manufacturers across the province have been busier than they’ve been in months, according to the latest information from Statistics Canada. March shipments of manufactured goods rose to $6.6 billion (seasonally adjusted)—a 1.7 per cent increase over...

Office construction costs climb

Posted on: May 14, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The cost of building new office towers in Edmonton and Calgary is on the rise, according to Statistics Canada’s quarterly Non-residential Building Construction Price Index. In the first quarter of this year, prices rose to an index of 169.1 in Edmonton...

Long term unemployment not as long in Alberta

Posted on: May 13, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s most recent unemployment rate of 4.7 per cent is more than two percentage points below the national rate of 6.9 per cent. Not only are there proportionately fewer people unemployed in Alberta, but those who are tend to be without work for...

Lumber prices slump in April

Posted on: May 12, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
North American lumber prices dipped in April to $US 365 per thousand board feet, according to new numbers from an American forestry organization. The prices are down a small amount from the beginning of the year when they were closer to $400.

Alberta shed jobs in April

Posted on: May 09, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Total employment in Alberta slipped by 2,900 positions in April, the second consecutive month of losses. However, the total labour force contracted by an even larger amount (down 7,000 in April). As a result, the unemployment rate fell from 4.9 per...

New home prices in Alberta's major cities

Posted on: May 08, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Prices of new homes in Calgary have posted the largest year-over-year increase among any city in Canada, according to new numbers from Statistics Canada. At the same time, prices in Edmonton have fallen flat.

Building permits rise in March

Posted on: May 07, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The value of building permits issued by cities and municipalities across Alberta rose slightly in March to $1.312 billion, according to new numbers from Statistics Canada. That increase over February is due entirely to a rise in the value of...

Alberta exports jump in March

Posted on: May 06, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The value of exports from Alberta to the rest of the world jumped to $10.3 billion in March, up about 17 per cent over February. Total exports from Alberta are up by 11.9 per cent over the last year compared to the previous 12-month period.

More oil moving by rail

Posted on: May 05, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The number of rail cars carrying oil through western Canada reached an all-time record in January of this year at 12,735.

Rental costs keeping pace with inflation

Posted on: May 02, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Renters in Alberta may not believe it, but rents in the province have kept pace almost precisely with overall consumer prices. Setting the March 2004 prices of both rents and the all-items basket of consumer goods equal to 100, the index value of rent...

Alberta faces little risk from Russian conflict

Posted on: May 01, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Russia’s current aggressions in Ukraine are raising concerns about potential trade sanctions. Canada, the United States, and some European countries have imposed diplomatic sanctions and restrictions against certain Russians from entering their countries.

We work hard for the money

Posted on: April 30, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
While jobs are plentiful in Alberta, there’s no free ride for those who come to work. In fact, Alberta is home to the longest work week in Canada.

Strong and stable growth in Alberta

Posted on: April 29, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta’s economy hummed along at a near-optimal speed last year, according to the latest calculations from Statistics Canada. The national statistics agency reported that Alberta’s real gross domestic product expanded by 3.9 per cent in 2013.

The reality of youth unemployment

Posted on: April 28, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Contrary to popular belief, today's graduates have ample employment opportunities. They just aren't the kind of jobs most of them want after working hard to achieve a higher education.

The not-so-temporary foreign worker

Posted on: April 25, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
The number of temporary foreign worker positions in Alberta spiked more than sevenfold in seven years. According to Employment and Social Development Canada, the number of jobs jumped from 10,245 in 2005, to 84,465 in 2012.

Inflation heats up in Alberta

Posted on: April 24, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Consumer prices in Alberta posted their highest year-over-year increase in more than five years, according to the latest inflation figures from Statistics Canada. Annual inflation shot up to 3.9 per cent in March.

Shoppers lift sales to another record high

Posted on: April 23, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Albertan consumers didn’t let nasty winter weather slow them down in February. Retailers racked up $6.47 billion in sales that month, surpassing the previous record set in January. The figure is adjusted to account for seasonality.

Wholesale trade vaults to new record

Posted on: April 22, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Wholesale trade rose to $6.82 billion (adjusted for seasonality) in Alberta this February. This marks the second consecutive month of significant gains, enough to reach a new record high.

Job vacancy rates highest in Alberta

Posted on: April 21, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Employers in Alberta leave more jobs unfilled than their counterparts in any other province, according to the latest Job Vacancy report from Statistics Canada.

Inflation heats up in Alberta

Posted on: April 17, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
Consumer prices in Alberta posted their highest year-over-year increase in more than five years, according to the latest inflation figures from Statistics Canada. Annual inflation shot up to 3.9 per cent in March.

Alberta faces little risk from Russian conflict

Posted on: April 16, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Russia’s current aggressions in Ukraine are raising concerns about potential trade sanctions. Canada, the United States, and some European countries have imposed diplomatic sanctions and restrictions against certain Russians from entering their countries.

Manufacturing fails to launch

Posted on: April 15, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Most of Alberta’s economic indicators are showing healthy gains, but one set of data is pointing to sluggishness.

Alberta's participation rate highest in Canada

Posted on: April 14, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Nearly three-quarters of Alberta’s population works outside the home, a statistic that reflects the strong employment opportunities that exist in the province.

Alberta keeps giving

Posted on: April 11, 2014 | Author: Nick Ford
When we think about spending money, retail sales are what usually come to mind. After all, Albertans did spend more than $6.42 billion at malls, shops and car dealerships in January. However, they're not just putting more of their hard-earned cash...

Popping the cork on wine sales in Alberta

Posted on: April 10, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Albertans are enjoying more of the good things in life, including the odd glass of wine. According to Statistics Canada, wine consumption in the province has nearly doubled over the last two decades from 9.5 litres to 18.5 litres per person per year.

Calgary office tower permits pull back

Posted on: April 09, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
The value of commercial building permits in Calgary waned at the beginning of this year. According to Statistics Canada, building permits issued for commercial projects totalled $132.2 million in February and only $76.7 million in January.

Housing starts keep market in balance

Posted on: April 08, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Home builders in Alberta geared back up in March after a slight pause in February. According to data compiled from Statistics Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, construction started on just shy of 40,000 new homes.

Livestock seeing better prices in 2014

Posted on: April 07, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Alberta cattle prices reached a record high of $124.50 per hundredweight in February, according to the latest Farm Product Price report from Statistics Canada. The price is the average price for slaughter cattle over the month. Other sources show that...

Alberta's job market takes a "spring break"

Posted on: April 04, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Despite a pause in March, Alberta's job market is hottest in the country.

Wining and dining our way to a new record

Posted on: April 03, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Patrons at Alberta’s food and drinking establishments spent their way to another record high in January.

Engineering the recovery

Posted on: April 01, 2014 | Author: Todd Hirsch
Engineering services a burgeoning business in Alberta.

 

Perch

Each Perch focuses on a topic that’s important to Alberta​ns.

This one is about self-employment. We uncover what has been happening to self-employment during the economic downturn and paint a portrait of Alberta’s self-employed entrepreneurs. So sit back and enjoy. ​


Read Perch now

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The Economic Team​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ (Left to right: Nick Ford, Todd Hirsch and Rob Roach)

Our Economics Team​​​

​​​

Todd Hirsch

Chief Economist

Todd Hirsch is the Chief Economist at ATB Financial. At ATB, Todd spends the bulk of his time sharing the story of Alberta’s economy in clear-eyed and energetic talks across the province and the rest of the country.

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Nick Ford

Economist

Nick Ford is an Economist at ATB Financial. Nick joined ATB’s Economics and Research team in February 2014 where he researches, tracks and reports on economic indicators and trends that impact Albertans.

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Rob Roach

Director of Insight

As a Director of Insight with ATB Financial’s Economics and Research team, Rob examines the economic and social forces that affect Albertans’ quality of life.

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ATB’s Extended Reports​

Black gold

Alberta's oil resources

Read the report.

Tightening Santa's belt

Holiday spending and travel intentions (December 2016)

Read the report.

Preparing for success

Post-secondary education in Alberta (September 2016)

Read the report.

Selling our wares

Alberta's international exports (May 2016)

Read the report.

Happiness in Alberta

The full results of ATB Financial’s Alberta Happiness Survey (June 2015)

Read the report.

Hanging out your shingle

Self-employment in Alberta (November 2015)

Read the report.

People power

Population trends in Alberta (March 2016)

Read the report.

The Owl

The latest developments in business and economics from a unique Albertan perspective.

Check out the Owl

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