indicatorThe Owl

Number of Alberta businesses going in the right direction

The upswing, while encouraging, does not mean that all is well in Alberta’s business sector

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 1 June 2021 1 min read

Although still down from its pre-pandemic level by 2.1 per cent (2,524), the seasonally adjusted number of active businesses in Alberta rose for the ninth month in a row, rising by 1.6 per cent in February (the most recent month for which data are available).

The number of active businesses in the province reached its lowest point in May 2020 when it fell to 106,492—9.5 per cent below where it was right before the pandemic.

The third wave of the pandemic may have disrupted progress on this front during March, April and May, but the reopening of the economy over the summer should enable the upward trend to continue.

It’s important to stress that the upswing, while encouraging, does not mean that all is well in Alberta’s business sector.

First, we want to be seeing the number of businesses growing rather than playing catch-up. This is exacerbated by the fact that the number of businesses in Alberta was already declining prior to COVID-19.

Second, while businesses open and close all the time, some have been forced to close on a permanent basis because of the pandemic. These closures are over and above what normally would have taken place and translate into more economic pain for owners, employees, investors and suppliers than would have happened otherwise.

Third, many businesses that have managed to hold on during the pandemic have been severely strained by it and this may leave them vulnerable going forward.

On the bright side, new businesses are being created and Alberta has a strong economic foundation to support them.

Answer to the previous trivia question: The health care and social services sector employs the most people in Alberta at 14 per cent of all workers.

Today’s trivia question: What percentage of Albertans have household Internet access through a fixed broadband connection?

The number of active businesses in Alberta reached its lowest point in May 2020 when it fell to 106,492

The number of active businesses in Alberta reached its lowest point in May 2020 when it fell to 106,492


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