Navigate Up
Sign In

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

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.



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

While many of us can probably cite the daily price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude, there is room to improve our understanding of just how much oil we have, how much we produce and who buys it. This edition of Perch presents a handy set of answers to these questions.

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.

Learn More

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.

Learn More

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.

Learn More


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

2016 ATB Financial. All rights reserved. ®ATB Financial is a trade name/registered trademark of Alberta Treasury Branches.