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A marathon not a sprint: Alberta economy forecasted to need time to recover

By ATB Financial 9 October 2020 2 min read

Calgary—ATB Financial’s newest Alberta Economic Outlook shows our province’s real GDP will grow by approximately 3.3 per cent in 2021 but it will take some time before the economy catches up to where it was before the global pandemic.

Although economic activity has risen since the spring lockdown, Alberta’s economy will be about 7 per cent smaller in 2020 than it was last year. Alberta went into the COVID-19 pandemic with a weakened economy. ATB is forecasting it will likely take until 2023 for Alberta’s annual GDP to surpass where it was in 2019.

“We are still living in a time of uncertainty,” said Todd Hirsch, vice president and chief economist for ATB Financial. “If a second wave leads to another lockdown, we will see the economy fall even lower this year. Alternatively, if we get an effective vaccine soon, we could see growth accelerate.”

While oil prices have rebounded since they dove into negative territory during the height of the first wave, both prices and global demand for oil remain soft with the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate potentially staying below $US 50 for the next two years. Oil and gas capital spending in Alberta is also forecast to remain low next year—even if global oil demand recovers—which will continue to adversely affect Alberta jobs and businesses.

Although every aspect of Alberta’s economy was touched by the pandemic, our agriculture sector has performed relatively well. Beef prices have improved and processing plants are now producing above normal levels to address the backlog. Food manufacturing sales are also up, outperforming the overall manufacturing sector.

“We have seen everything from retail sales, job numbers and manufacturing improve since economic activity resumed,” said Hirsch. “Still, it will be a long time before we catch up to where we were pre-pandemic. In that sense, Alberta’s economic recovery will be more of a marathon than a sprint.”

Read the complete ATB Financial Economic Outlook here.

About ATB Financial
With $55.1 billion in assets, ATB Financial is an Alberta-built financial institution that is a catalyst for economic growth in our province. We got started in 1938 to help Albertans through tough economic times. Today, ATB’s more than 5,000 team members love to deliver exceptional experiences to nearly 800,000 customers through our many branches and agencies, our 24-hour Client Care Centre, four entrepreneur centres, and our digital banking options. Everything we do is focused on how we can serve Albertans—from providing expert advice and supporting entrepreneurs to helping Albertans buy a home and grow their wealth.

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