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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.

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?


The graph below shows how office construction costs have both risen and fallen at certain points over the last 20 years. With costs in 2002 set equal to 100, the index value for Edmonton builders stood at 163.8 in the last quarter of 2016, or nearly 64 per cent higher than in 2002. The index for Calgary was 166.3. Building costs tracked by Statistics Canada include services required for design and construction, such as structural tradeworkers, architects, and mechanical and electrical trades. The index does not include building material costs.

The costs showed a major drop in both cities during the 2009 recession, but that downturn was short-lived. Costs gradually resumed their rise after that but fell short of the record high set in 2008. In this most recent recession, costs have fallen only modestly. From a peak in the second quarter of 2014, costs fell by only 3.5 per cent in Calgary and 4 per cent in Edmonton.

Costs appear to have stabilized and even inched higher in the fourth quarter of last year, suggesting that builders may not see much more cost reduction in 2017. It may not matter too much. Given that office vacancy rates are set to hit record highs in 2017, it’s unlikely another major office tower will be built for quite some time.Office building construction, 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

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.

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.



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

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