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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.

Housing starts solid—at least for now

Posted on: July 12, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

Certain economic indicators are good at measuring the pulse of consumer sentiment. Housing statistics, for example, track the mood of consumers since a new home is one of the biggest purchases one can make. According to the latest data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, confidence is coming back to Alberta.

Last month, builders started construction on 30,839 homes in the province, including multi-family units. The figure is adjusted for seasonality and is expressed as an annualized rate (that is, the number of units that would be built in one year if the pace in June continued for 12 months). It was the third month in a row in which housing starts were above the 30,000 mark.

The yellow bars in the graph below are monthly figures, while the blue line is the six-month trend. From the peak of activity in late 2014 to the low point last summer, housing construction fell by nearly half. However, as shown by the trend line, housing construction is picking up once again. Over the first half of this year, starts are up by 15 per cent compared to the second half of 2016.

However, this rising trend could be interrupted by an increase in borrowing costs. The Bank of Canada is widely expected to raise interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point, which would nudge mortgage rates up by a similar amount. That may take a bit of wind out of the sail of the housing market in the second half of the year.Housing starts in Alberta, 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

Employment Insurance recipients falling faster than unemployment in Alberta

Posted on: July 20, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
The latest data from Statistics Canada show that there were 71,950 Albertans receiving federal Employment Insurance (EI) benefits in May. This represents a drop of 33 per cent from the peak reached in July 2016 (107,470 recipients).

A Tale of Two Cities: Non-Residential Construction in Calgary and Edmonton

Posted on: July 19, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Both of Alberta’s two largest metro areas have seen a drop in investment in non-residential construction between the first and second quarter of 2017.

Yahoo! Higher Stampede attendance a good sign for the economy

Posted on: July 18, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
There are many ways to measure the health of the Alberta economy. A jump in attendance at the Calgary Stampede is generally a good sign, while a drop suggests that something is amiss.

Trans Pacific Partnership soldiering on without the US

Posted on: July 17, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
When the United States withdrew from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) in January 2017, many assumed that the trade deal was kaput but it remains in play. Japan and New Zealand have been leading an effort to keep the agreement alive.

Jobs report positive going into second half of 2017

Posted on: July 07, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Along with free pancakes and a clear sunny day, there was some good economic news to kick-off the Calgary Stampede this morning.

Building intentions show stabilization

Posted on: July 06, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Alberta’s city skylines have been lined with cranes for many years. And even though construction activity in the province has slowed, the cranes show no signs of disappearing. That’s because building activity has started to stabilize.

Motorcycles still revving strong in Alberta

Posted on: July 05, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
The open road, stunning scenery, sun on your skin. It’s understandable why so many people love motorcycles. Recent data shows the effects of the recent economic downturn have not stopped Albertans from registering their two wheels.



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.

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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​

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.

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