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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

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.



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

In this edition, we did a survey to understand how much Albertans intend to spend over the holidays and if they are planning to travel. It’s important to know what to expect because the surge in spending that takes place ahead of Christmas is often critical to a retailer’s survival.

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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