indicatorThe Owl

New GDP estimate for 2021

Alberta’s GDP grew by 5.1% last year

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 2 May 2022 1 min read

Gross domestic product (GDP) is a fairly blunt measure of economic health: an increase in GDP is a good sign while a decrease is a bad one.

But, just as checking a patient’s heart with a stethoscope is still useful even though it doesn’t provide a complete picture, tracking changes in GDP gives us a sense of how an economy has been performing. It also establishes a benchmark against which we can assess future performance.

Here’s where things get a bit tricky. It takes a fair amount of time for Statistics Canada—the keeper of official GDP data—to accurately calculate economic output at the provincial level. As a result, we don’t get official estimates of GDP by province for the previous year until early May.* Until then, we rely on forecasts that can only approximate the level of rigour achieved by Statistics Canada.

Lo and behold these estimates were released this morning and show that Alberta’s real economic output increased in 2021 by 5.1%. For the record, our most recent forecast was 6.1%.

The growth in Alberta last year came after the 8.0% drop in GDP** we experienced in 2020 when the initial stages of the pandemic and the oil price crash were weighing heavily on the provincial economy.

While strong, the bounce back was not enough to recover all of the economic ground lost in 2020 with Alberta’s GDP in 2021 still $11.1 billion below the level in 2019.

Tomorrow’s Owl will examine how the GDP of different industries in Alberta changed last year.

*A second estimate of GDP by province is published in November and is considered the more accurate of the two. Earlier estimates are, moreover, subject to revision.

**The estimate from the November data series is just slightly different at 7.9%.

Answer to the previous trivia question: According to Statistics Canada, and keeping in mind that “the social impact of unemployment during the 1930s was undoubtedly different from today,” Canada’s unemployment rate peaked at 19.3% in June 1933 during the Great Depression.

Today’s trivia question: Which province’s GDP experienced the largest percentage increase last year?

Alberta's real GDP rebounded in 2021

Alberta's real GDP rebounded in 2021 but was still below its prepandemic level

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