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The Owl focuses on the day’s top economic news.

ATB Financial’s economics team interprets the latest statistics on wages, employment, inflation, the oil and gas industry and other economic drivers in our province.

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 (our team that helps customers) shows that the economic situation here in Alberta may slowly be getting better.

The study showed that approximately 5,000 calls (two per cent of the total call volume during the study dates) to the Customer Care Centre were regarding “severe financial hardship”—customers who are facing severe financial hardship are delinquent on their payments for more than three months. While seemingly a lot of calls, that’s a drop of about 30 per cent compared to a year earlier.

The number of people who proactively called to consolidate their loans or refinance had also dropped (-22 per cent). The latest study showed that 1,659 customers phoned in regards to restructuring compared to 2,242 a year earlier.

Despite these signs of optimism, there was a five per cent increase from last year in the number of calls pertaining to “moderate financial strain”. These are clients who have missed more than one payment and are calling to inquire about deferring more payments. These customers may be unsure about their job prospects and ability to pay in the future. The increase in calls relating to missed payments and job uncertainty are not surprising, especially given Alberta’s mounting unemployment rate at the time.

It’s true that the rise in calls regarding missed payments and job uncertainty could evolve into something even more difficult. However, the overall decreases in calls pertaining to “severe financial hardship” as well as loan consolidations show that Alberta’s economy may be starting to slowly recover.Albertans' economic situation, graph

Alberta Economic Outlook

ATB Financial’s Alberta Economic Outlook summarizes research on Alberta’s most important sectors, covering the first quarter of 2015. It analyzes the province’s economic happenings and outlines what may occur in the next quarter. Read the Outlooks below for the latest on our economy.

Q1 2015 | Q2 2015

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.



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

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


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​

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.

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ATBOnline Advice

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