indicatorThe Owl

Number of oil and gas businesses down the most of any sector since 2015

Only two sectors experienced an increase between the start of 2015 and the start of 2020

By ATB Economics 2 February 2021 2 min read

Monday’s Owl looked at the overall decline in the number of businesses in Alberta since 2015 as well as the impact of the pandemic and oil price crash on business closures in 2020. Today’s Owl digs into how the number of businesses has changed by industry between January 2015 and January 2020 just before the pandemic started. Tomorrow’s Owl will zero-in on the changes during COVID.

There were 9,500 fewer active businesses with at least one employee other than the owner in Alberta in January 2020 than there were in January 2015—a drop of 8.2 per cent.

The largest contraction over this period in percentage terms was in the energy sector with the number of oil and gas businesses falling by 24.8 per cent (1,105). Some of this is the result of consolidation and changing exploration and production techniques, but it also reflects the difficulties that have been hampering the industry such as price crashes and transportation bottlenecks.

The largest drop in the absolute number of businesses since 2015 took place in the construction sector. On a net basis, the number of construction sector businesses was down by 2,473 (13.2 per cent) in January 2020 compared to five years earlier.

The professional, scientific and technical services sector was a close second, losing 2,228 businesses (10.9 per cent) over the same period. Most of the contraction took place during the recession of 2015-16. The professional, scientific and technical services sector is tightly linked to the fortunes of the oil and gas industry providing a wide range of geophysical, engineering, accounting, legal and other services to energy companies.

Only two sectors experienced an increase between the start of 2015 and the start of 2020: the number of businesses in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector grew by 14.2 per cent (183) while the number of accommodation and food services businesses grew by 5.0 per cent (365). (Data for businesses in the education sector and the health and social services sector were suppressed by Statistics Canada to meet confidentiality requirements.)

Answer to the previous trivia question: According to Fortune magazine, Walmart is the largest private employer in the world with about 2.2 million employees.

Today’s trivia question: What share of the global population lacks access to clean fuels for cooking?

The number of oil and gas businesses fell by 1,105 between January 2015 and January 2020

The number of oil and gas businesses fell by 1,105 between January 2015 and January 2020


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