Sailing into the economic wind
As of early January, 73 per cent of Albertans felt the Canadian economy was in a recession.
By ATB Economics 2 March 2020 1 min read
According to a recent survey of Canadians conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights, Albertans are not feeling good about the economy. As of early January when the survey was conducted, 73 per cent of Albertans felt the Canadian economy was in a recession compared to 47 per cent of Canadians as a whole.
Even with a fairly large margin of error (+/- 7.3 percentage points for the Alberta sample), these results point to a high degree of economic anxiety among Albertans. The anxiety, moreover, was running high before fears of the coronavirus were in full swing, the rail blockades began and the Teck oil sands project was kiboshed.
You can argue about the relative importance of perceptions of economic performance versus actual data, but Albertans are not imagining a slow economy. We don’t have provincial numbers from Statistics Canada yet, but numerous forecasts suggest that the Alberta economy grew at a snail’s pace last year. ATB’s most recent estimate pegs real GDP growth in 2019 at just 0.4 per cent compared to a twenty-year average of 2.9 per cent.
Preliminary numbers for the national economy put Canada’s real GDP growth at 1.6 per cent last year, down from 2.0 per cent in 2018. This is better than in Alberta, but it’s not exactly breaking records.
Just as it is more important for sailors to know what’s coming than what just happened, so it is for the millions of Albertans trying to make headway on the economic seas. The weak numbers for 2019, combined with the dim economic mood in the province, point to a slow start to 2020.
The weakness, moreover, is carrying forward into a year that is shaping up to be a rough one for the global economy. The negative economic effects of the coronavirus will be temporary, but are also looking like they will be deep. And the temporary period between now and when things get back to “normal” could be quite long.