indicatorThe Owl

Head office employment down in Alberta

Calgary experienced the largest absolute drop in head office employment in the country between 2014 and 2019

By ATB Economics 27 January 2021 2 min read

New data from Statistics Canada show that Alberta was home to 16.2 per cent of all head office* jobs in Canada in 2019. Alberta’s share of the national total in 2014 was higher at 18.4 per cent.

Between 2014 and 2019, head office employment in Alberta fell by 12.9 per cent or 5,483 positions while it rose by 1.5 per cent or 2,769 positions in the rest of the country.

Only two other provinces experienced a decline in head office employment over this period: Saskatchewan (-8.9 per cent or 601 positions) and New Brunswick (-10.1 per cent or 374 positions).

Toronto had the largest number of head office jobs of any Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) in 2019 at 74,438 positions or 32.7 per cent of the total.

Head office employment in Toronto was, however, down by 1.4 per cent (1,037 positions) compared to five years earlier.

The Calgary CMA was home to 77.7 per cent of head office jobs in Alberta in 2019 compared to 15.0 per cent located in the Edmonton CMA.

Calgary experienced the largest absolute drop in head office employment in the country between 2014 and 2019 with 3,598 jobs lost over that period (-11.1 per cent). The number of head office jobs in Edmonton, meanwhile, fell by 1,107 (-16.6 per cent).

The number of head offices (as opposed to head office jobs) increased by 7 outside Alberta (+0.3 per cent) between 2014 and 2019, but decreased by 16 in Alberta (-4.1 per cent). Calgary lost 9 head offices while Edmonton gained 3. (The locations of the other head office closures in the province are not specified in the data.)

The oil crash and consolidations that marked Alberta’s oil patch in 2020 have likely pushed head office employment in the province down even further.

More generally, “[w]hile many factors determine whether or not companies continue to maintain their head office operations, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a contraction in economic activity, altered the way many businesses operate and changed consumer spending habits. It is likely that these changes may have some impact on the footprint of head office operations and the results for reference year 2020 will shed light on how head offices have weathered the stormy economic waters brought on by the pandemic.”

*Head offices include establishments and locations primarily engaged in providing general management or administrative support services to affiliated establishments. Their activities include corporate functions, such as strategic organizational planning, communications, tax planning, legal services, marketing, finance, human resource management and information technology services.

Answer to the previous trivia question: Tim Hortons is the biggest food chain in Canada with over 4,200 stores.

Today’s trivia question: According to Fortune magazine, what is the largest company in the world as measured by annual revenue in 2020?

Between 2014 and 2019, head office employment in Alberta fell by 12.9 per cent

The number of head office jobs declined in three province between 2014 and 2019: Alberta, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan


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