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Daily Archives

  • Jobs in culture and sport lagging national average

    It’s not all oil rigs and construction sites in Alberta—arts, culture, recreation and sports also play important roles in our economy. However, as a percentage of the workforce, fewer Albertans are employed in these sectors than the national average.
  • Alberta's forestry sector finishes 2014 strong

    While our eyes were fixed on the slide of one particular commodity at the end of 2014, another grew behind the scenes and finished 2014 on a strong note.
  • Housing starts: steady as she goes

    If new data on housing construction are any indication, Alberta’s real estate market is certainly not collapsing the way some exaggerated reports would have you believe.
  • Alberta's labour market down—but certainly not out

    Some employees in Alberta were handed pink slips last month, a likely result of the ongoing economic slowdown which has gripped the province for nearly a year. However, given the current economic environment the labour market is still holding up remarkably well.
  • Alberta exports down

    Total exports from our province fell four per cent from March to $7.5 billion in April. Over the last twelve months, Alberta’s sales to the world have slowed significantly. Still, total exports are up nearly 2.5 per cent compared to the previous twelve months.
  • Albertans least likely to be low income

    This year is shaping up to be a slow one for Alberta’s economy. Still, growth had been exceptionally strong over the last decade-and-a-half, and that has lifted most people’s wages and wealth. In fact, Albertans have the lowest probability of being low income or holding no wealth.
  • Alberta spud production is no small potatoes

    Prince Edward Island is usually the province that comes to mind when we talk about potato farming in Canada. However, new numbers show that Alberta should be added to the potato conversation as well.
  • The most enterprising place on earth!

    Anyone who’s been in Alberta for more than 15 minutes quickly notices that it’s pro-business and entrepreneurial. And a new survey gives some statistical proof to the notion that both Canada and Alberta are great places to start a business.
  • Wages rise but wage growth tells all

    In spite of the bruised job market here in Alberta, workers in our province continued to chalk up another increase in take home pay in March. According to the most recent data from Statistics Canada, average weekly earnings in this province rose to $1,160.06, an increase of nearly two per cent compared to March of last year.
  • Farming sets a strong pace in 2015

    You don’t have to drive too far outside of any major city in Alberta to see it happening almost everywhere: farming. And more evidence has arrived to suggest that agriculture is taking a leading role in the economy this year.
  • Albertans show off their green thumbs

    Many Albertans are embracing May’s heat wave with barbeques and a round (or two) of golf. But there are also lots of us who are welcoming summer by planting our gardens. New annual data released from Statistics Canada’s Household and Environmental Survey shows that in 2013, almost 60 per cent of Alberta households reported having a garden of some sort.
  • Housing construction expected to slow

    The pace of new home construction in both Edmonton and Calgary was white-hot last year, coming close to surpassing records set in 2006 and 2007. But according to recent projections, builders will be pulling back on new residential projects both this year and next.
  • Investment in new apartment construction

    Residential apartment buildings account for a significant source of housing for many Albertans. Some of these are sold as condominiums and others are built as rental properties. Is the supply of new apartments in Alberta much different than it is in the rest of the country?
  • Retail sales shaking off the economic blues

    Reports of Alberta’s economic demise are highly exaggerated—at least according to the latest report on retail trade. In March, total retail sales jumped to just over $6.4 billion, a 1.1 per cent gain from the previous month. It was the second consecutive monthly gain, following step losses between October and January.
  • Employment Insurance levels move higher

    For the third month in a row, Alberta led all provinces in the growth of the number of people collecting regular employment insurance benefits. According to Statistics Canada, there were 38,800 beneficiaries in March, an increase of 8.9 per cent or 3,000 people from February.
  • Job vacancy rates confirm weaker employment picture

    New job vacancy numbers confirm that slumping energy prices have taken a toll on jobs in Alberta. Approximately 1.8 per cent of all jobs in our province were vacant in February of this year, down from 2.4 per cent a year ago (a lower vacancy rate suggests there are fewer jobs available). The national average for the same month was 1.5 per cent.
  • Metal fabrication showing signs of oil slowdown

    It’s not usually thought of as a manufacturing hub, but Alberta is actually quite a busy place for certain types of fabrication. According to the most recent manufacturing data, released last Friday by Statistics Canada, metal products add nearly half a billion dollars to the province’s total manufacturing.
  • Albertans feeling more optimistic about our economy

    Some economists are predicting a recession in Alberta, but the results from ATB Financial’s latest Ear to the Ground Survey show that Albertans are starting to feel more, not less, optimistic about the future state of our economy.
  • New home prices in Calgary and Edmonton

    Prices of new homes in Calgary displayed the largest monthly decrease among any city in the country, according to new numbers from Statistics Canada. With that said, the decline has been minimal.
  • Despite monthly decline, oil extraction levels stay higher than last year

    The latest oil supply and distribution numbers from Statistics Canada show that total crude oil extraction in Alberta fell by over eight million barrels (-8.2 per cent) from January to February.
  • Cattle increasingly mooo-ving south

    Alberta consumers may have noticed rising prices for beef in the grocery store. Those price hikes are part of a larger industry trend in the cattle and beef industry in North America—one that is seeing a greater value of exports of live cattle from Canada to the United States.
  • The dust continues to settle

    A month ago, The Owl reported that oil prices seemed to be showing some stability and improvements from their hasty autumn tumble. Since then, it appears as though prices have improved further despite still experiencing routine daily price volatility.
  • Alberta's job market surprises on the upside in April

    Despite a slowdown in economic activity this year, Alberta’s job market posted a surprisingly strong gain last month. According to the latest Labour Force Survey, total employment increased by 12,500 jobs in April.
  • Non-residential intentions help boost building permits

    The total value of building permits issued by Alberta’s cities and towns rose by $133 million (+11 per cent) in March to $1.3 billion. According to new figures released this morning by Statistics Canada, the increase in March was due to surprising growth in the value of non-residential projects in our province.
  • Canada's trade deficit grows to record high in March

    Canada’s trade deficit grew to a record $3-billion in March, a gap wider than what many analysts had been anticipating. According to Statistics Canada, imports grew by 2.2 per cent. Exports on the other hand, only grew by nearly half a per cent.
  • Three cheers for beer!

    Wine consumption in Alberta, as outlined in yesterday’s edition of The Owl, posted a record high of $516 million last year. But Merlot or Chardonnay may not be everyone’s cup of tea... or cup of any beverage for that matter. When it comes to tipping back a few, one beverage is still well on top.
  • Albertans popping more corks

    Be it a nice crisp Pinot Gris or a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, wine consumption in Alberta has increased steadily over the last decade.
  • Personal bankruptcy numbers show slowdown

    More Alberta households felt the impact of the economic downturn in February with the rate of personal bankruptcies rising above 2014 levels. This is the first time since 2010 that personal bankruptcies have increased on a year-over-year basis.
  • Welcome to the work week in Alberta

    Despite softer labour conditions, many Albertans are still putting in longer hours and getting paid more than workers in other provinces. On average, employees in our province worked 30 hours per week in February, with an additional 1.8 hours of overtime.
  • All that goes unreported: The underground economy

    Although the vast majority of the economy in Canada is perfectly legitimate and measurable, there remains a portion of activity that goes unreported. This morning, Statistics Canada released estimates of the value of these unreported economic transactions, which is known as the underground economy.
  • Alberta at the top in 2014

    The numbers are in—and for another year Alberta topped all other provinces for economic growth.
  • Computer prices are falling—at least for some

    It’s natural for consumers to focus on the prices of items that are going up, and lately there have been some notable increases in things like meat and fresh produce. Other prices are actually falling—but the lower prices may depend on whose making the purchase.
  • New housing investment still highest in Alberta

    Unlike Alberta’s job market, it appears as though our housing sector remains in good shape. The largest year-over-year advancement in new housing construction again occurred in our province in February.
  • Employment Insurance numbers reflect oil's price fall

    The results of the last Labour Force Survey signalled that Alberta’s economy is starting to soften. Today’s release on Employment Insurance (EI) reconfirms that our economy is indeed labouring.
  • Taking care of business and working overtime

    Albertans know how to put in a long workday—and statistically, they work the longest hours per week in the country.
  • Happiness, a small city advantage

    More people are flocking to cities with faith that life in the big smoke can provide greater opportunity and economic prosperity. The belief is that this will ultimately create happiness. But moving to a city with the most coffee shops or the biggest, shiniest office towers might not necessarily make you happier.
  • Backyard barbecues costing big bucks

    It’s time to put away the hockey gear, skis and snow blowers for another year and break out the barbeque. Albertans love their steaks and cedar-planked salmon almost as much as they like their playoff hockey (umm... sorry Edmonton).
  • Shoppers pick up the pace in February

    After a few months of taking a break, Albertans started venturing back into stores, malls and car dealerships in February. Total retail sales in that month were $6.37 billion, adjusted for seasonality.
  • Non-residential construction stable at start of 2015

    Judging by all of the negative attention paid to Alberta’s economy, one might easily assume that construction activity was grinding to a halt. But that would be wrong. In the first quarter of 2015, there was no sign of that happening.
  • Canadian businesses recognizing the importance of art

    Recently, Alex Janvier was the first Alberta artist commissioned to create public art for Edmonton’s downtown arena district. At around the same time, conversation sparked in Calgary about the value of public art.
  • Non-permanent residents in Alberta

    Canada and Alberta have a long history of welcoming international migrants. Waves of permanent settlers—much of them from war-torn Europe in the early 1900s—helped establish a growing population base on the Prairies a century ago. The situation today is a bit different, however. Non-permanent residents have been the primary driver of international visitors coming to Alberta.
  • Commercial building permits: A ten-year perspective

    Shiny office towers, hotels and big box shopping centres have cropped up all around Alberta over the last decade. And despite an expected slowdown in new spending this year, our province continues to account for a sizable portion of Canada’s total commercial construction activity.
  • Alberta's job market is holding on...sort of

    The much-hyped collapse of employment in Alberta has yet to materialize, at least statistically. In March, the number of jobs in the province actually edged higher by 1,500 positions—a bit of a surprise given the constant parade of headlines about companies laying off workers.
  • Building permits soften in March

    Construction activity in Alberta is set to slow down in the coming months, according to a new report from Statistics Canada. In February, municipalities throughout the province issued building permits totalling just under $1.19 billion, the lowest level since October 2012. Building permits are an excellent leading indicator—that is, they point towards the level of construction spending that we can anticipate in the coming months.
  • Are oil prices showing some stability?

    Albertans were captivated by the enormous plunge in oil prices last fall. And while there is still a good deal of daily price volatility, prices seemed to have settled down a bit in 2015.
  • Small and mid-sized businesses feel strong ties to oil

    ATB Financial’s latest Business Beat survey illustrates the strong bond between Alberta’s businesses and oil prices. The latest round of polling asked 624 small and mid-sized businesses to compare the success of their business to the price of oil.
  • Canadian international trade finishes 2014 strong

    Canada's total merchandise trade (exports plus imports) was $1.05 trillion in 2014, up from $966 billion in 2013. An increase in Canadian exports (+10.3 per cent) caused Canada's annual merchandise trade balance to shift from a deficit of $7.2 billion in 2013 to a surplus of $4.6 billion in 2014. Unsurprisingly, the growth in exports in 2014 was strongest during the first three quarters of the year.
  • Earnings rise again

    Alberta workers received fatter paycheques in January as they received another considerable increase in take home pay. According to the most recent figures from Statistics Canada, average weekly earnings in our province rose to over $1,170, the highest level on record.
  • Jobless rate 2015 won't come close to historic highs

    Unfortunately, the slowdown in Alberta’s economy this year means the unemployment rate is set to rise. According to the Alberta Economic Outlook (Q2 2015), released yesterday by ATB Financial, the rate of joblessness in the province is expected to rise to an average of about six per cent this year, topping out at close to seven per cent by the summer.
  • Alberta's 2015 slowdown

    Today, ATB Financial is releasing its latest Alberta Economic Outlook for the second quarter of 2015. This is the most up-to-date snapshot of the province’s economy and our research team’s best estimate of what we can expect this year.
  • How's our economy doing?

    ATB Financial will release its second quarter Alberta Economic Outlook on Tuesday. The Outlook summarizes research collected on our province’s most important sectors in an effort to give us a sense of what the future has in store.
  • Forget final exams, what about employment?

    For many, the prospect of employment can be worrying even at the best of times. And, as the last Labour Force Survey showed, the price of crude is starting to chip away at Alberta’s economy. For students and graduates looking for employment, this may present a predicament.
  • Employment insurance levels edge slightly higher

    More evidence arrived this morning to suggest that Alberta’s labour market is slowing. The number of Albertans collecting regular employment insurance benefits ticked up to 30,960 in January, higher by about two per cent from December.
  • Footwear prices getting the boot

    Pumps, wedges, wingtips, sneakers... we love them all! And footwear fashionistas in Alberta can rejoice, because the prices for shoes are falling.
  • Lumber production helps Alberta's forestry sector advance

    Alberta’s forestry sector continued to flex its muscles during the third quarter of last year. Although the total value of lumber, pulp and paper and panelboard manufactured fell over the quarter, the Alberta Forest Products Association reports that total value of production from AFPA members was up four per cent from the same time the previous year.
  • Alberta and Saskatchewan: A tug-of-war for people

    Alberta and Saskatchewan both became provinces on September 1, 1905. By sharing this day, they could be considered twins. Like many siblings, there’s been some rivalry between the two. And in no area has the competition been fiercer than in the flow of people.
  • Albertans continue to see low price inflation

    Prices for household goods and services in Alberta edged only slightly higher in February, according to this morning’s Consumer Price Index. Average prices rose only 0.9 per cent in the province last month compared to a year earlier.
  • Wholesale trade starts the year strong

    After a small drop in sales at the end of last year, Alberta’s wholesalers were a little busier at the start of 2015.
  • Jobs in Alberta

    The monthly Labour Force Survey may be the largest job market indicator, but it’s not the only one. Statistics Canada also tracks job vacancies by sector every month. And it’s latest figures show there may still be jobs available in Alberta, but not as many as a year ago.
  • Manufacturing feels the squeeze

    Alberta’s refineries, sawmills and factories got off to a rough start this year with sales falling to their lowest point since 2012.
  • Big bucks for big trucks!

    There’s no question that Alberta’s economy has started to slow down. But in January of this year, at least, Albertans still seemed to be quite willing to part with their hard-earned dollars on new cars and trucks.
  • Economic slowdown showing up in job market

    It’s been expected for some time now—the drop in energy prices finally appears to be taking a toll on workers in Alberta.
  • Alberta sees oil extraction levels increase in December

    According to Statistics Canada’s latest oil supply and disposition figures, instead of cutting production as oil prices fell in December, Alberta’s oil producers ramped up extraction and exported more oil from our province in the final month of last year.
  • Youth job prospects better in Alberta

    Young people looking for their first job or college graduates seeking a start on their career can sometimes feel discouraged. Employers want work experience, but without their first job, experience is out of reach. It’s a common frustration for many.
  • Home heating in Alberta

    With this week’s mild temperatures, cranking up the thermostat is probably not top of mind for many Albertans. Even when we do need to cozy up the house, few of us pay much attention to the way we do it—or the fuel that’s required.
  • Happiness and Alberta's economic slowdown

    Not surprisingly, the dark economic clouds caused by low oil prices and the related news about job cuts and the potential for a hole to form in the middle of the provincial government’s finances are reducing the happiness of a large number of Albertans (36 per cent–see chart below). The pain and worry are real.
  • Building permits drop significantly in January

    It appears Alberta’s construction sector is feeling the pinch of lower crude prices. The total value of building permits issued by Alberta’s cities and towns fell by $473 million (-27 per cent) in January to $1.3 billion, according to new figures released by Statistics Canada.
  • ATB survey shows continued consumer confidence

    The results from ATB Financial’s bi-weekly Ear to the Ground survey show Albertans remain confident and level headed when it comes to the current state of our economy.
  • Canadian economy ends 2014 stronger than expected

    Canada’s gross domestic product grew by 0.6 per cent in the final three months of last year, according to the latest Statistics Canada figures. The pace of growth was slower than rates seen in the previous two quarters, but it still managed to defy expectations.
  • Alberta's lumber industry reaches for the sky

    While Albertans continue to wrestle with news regarding one particular sector, another important industry is stealthily making gains.
  • Cost of produce on the rise

    We’re all told to eat our fruits and vegetables each day. For all the health benefits that will bring, it might cause some pain in your wallet.
  • A mixed bag for farm prices

    Ask Alberta’s farmers how things are looking this year, and you may get a lot of very different answers. Will farm cash receipts improve this year? As an economist would say... it all depends!
  • Alberta's long workweek

    Albertans have been known to work long hours and put in more overtime than employees in other provinces. And, according to the latest Payroll employment, earnings and hours figures from Statistics Canada, this hasn’t changed.
  • New housing investment highest in Alberta

    The largest year-over-year advancement in new housing construction occurred in Alberta last December. According to the most recent Statistics Canada data, total investment in new residential building construction in our province was up nearly seven per cent ($865 million) from the previous year’s levels.
  • Cost pressures for oil and gas producers still rising?

    For all of the attention on the falling price of oil, there’s been surprisingly little focus on the other side of the producer equation: costs. According to one report, producers haven’t been catching much of a break on that front—at least not yet.
  • Is funding for the arts lagging in Alberta?

    A conversation has been sparked in Calgary about the value of public art and specifically, how much governments should be expected to fund. But when it comes to public spending on the arts in Alberta—at least from one major source of tax-based funding—we’re lagging behind other provinces.
  • Albertans rein in their shopping

    Last year’s holiday season may have been just as jolly as usual, but Albertans did appear to be a bit more Scrooge-like when it came to their shopping.
  • Alberta, the hotspot for newcomers

    Every year more migrants move to Alberta in search of greater opportunity; a concept called economic mobility. And while interprovincial migration has largely influenced the surge in our population, international immigration has continued to intensify and play a substantial role in that growth as well.
  • Albertans tops in charitable donations

    Alberta often ranks at the top among the provinces—highest wages, fastest growing cities, highest labour participation rates, etc. It also tops the list on another ranking, this time one that reflects the generosity of its residents.
  • Food processors seeing rising sales

    Last year closed with some grim forecasts for Alberta’s economy, but quietly in the background certain sectors seem to be gaining momentum. One of those sectors is food manufacturing. The value of food manufacturing in the province topped $1.1 billion in December — that was the tenth consecutive month of sales exceeding the one billion dollar mark.
  • New ATB poll finds: Albertans are keeping calm and moving on

    From newspapers to TV screens, there’s been heavy coverage of Alberta’s current and future economic landscape. Politicians, journalists and economists have all weighed in but how do Albertans feel about the current state of the economy?
  • Calgary and Edmonton still growing fastest

    For a third consecutive year, the two fastest growing cities in Canada are in Alberta. According to Statistics Canada, Calgary—Canada’s fastest growing city—grew by 3.6 per cent in 2014, while Edmonton grew at 3.3 per cent. As of July 1, 2014, Calgary’s total population was 1,406,721; Edmonton’s population was 1,328,290.
  • Oil extraction remains above last year's levels

    Statistics Canada’s latest data on oil supply and distribution shows that Alberta’s crude producers were holding steady and continued to extract oil back in November.
  • Prepare for take-off! Alberta's airport traffic ramping up

    A growing province requires a growing amount of air traffic to keep up with passenger travel and cargo shipments. And certainly both of Alberta’s two largest airports have shown an increase in traffic over the last several years.
  • Commercial vacancy rates expected to hold steady

    Despite the doom-and-gloom scenarios of economic decline that are bandied about in Alberta, the health of commercial real estate is expected to remain constant in 2015, at least according to one recent forecast.
  • The cost of engineering services

    Alberta’s petroleum producers remain fixated on the still-volatile price of crude oil. But far less attention has been paid to the other side of the profit equation: costs—and these have escalated sharply over the past few years.
  • Refinery product prices starting to fall

    Consumers may be enjoying lower pump prices but prairie petroleum producers are beginning to feel the pinch as the price they received for gasoline, diesel and light fuel all fell sharply in December.
  • Dining out? Rising prices are on the menu

    Last week we reported in The Owl that Alberta restaurant and bar receipts hit a new record high of $745 million in November (adjusted for seasonality), and that over the last 12-months, total restaurant and bar receipts are up 6.0 per cent.
  • Alberta's hotel rates continue to climb

    If you travel for business or just for fun, you may have noticed that Alberta’s hotels and motels are beginning to take a bigger bite out of your wallet. According to new accommodation numbers released by Statistics Canada, our province’s room rates were eight per cent higher for both holiday and business visitors in December than in the previous year.
  • GDP takes a tumble in November

    Canada’s economic output shrank in November of last year, the second largest dip in almost a year. Statistics Canada reported this morning that real gross domestic product—the sum of all of the goods and services produced in the economy—contracted by 0.2 per cent month-over-month, adjusted for seasonality.
  • Restaurant receipts levelling off

    Aside from watching Calgary win the Grey Cup in November, a lot of Albertans were busy with one of their other favourite pastimes: eating and drinking at their local restaurant, pub or fast food joint. And while the monthly increase was small, it was enough to lift total receipts to a new record high.
  • Albertans the big spenders

    Each month Statistics Canada reports on average weekly earnings in the country, and those figures show Albertans earn by far the most among the provinces. But another report that comes out only once a year shows that not only do Albertans earn the most, we also spend the most.
  • Business optimism tracked in ATB survey

    According to ATB Financial’s latest Business Beat survey, Alberta’s businesses are starting to feel the impact of low oil prices and a sinking loonie. Last quarter, the ATB Economy index—a tool that measures economic optimism among our province’s small- and medium-sized businesses—slipped to 44.5, the lowest index score on record.
  • Inflation puts on the brakes

    Consumer prices in Alberta decelerated in November marking one of the lowest inflation rates in almost a year. According to the latest inflation report from Statistics Canada, prices in our province grew by 1.9 per cent compared to December of 2013.
  • Retail sales regress

    Statistics Canada says Alberta retailers rang up sales of $6.6 billion in November (adjusted for seasonality), a microscopic drop (-0.6 per cent) from October.
  • Employment insurance levels inch higher

    The number of Albertans collecting federal employment insurance benefits rose slightly in November, up to 28,980. That’s nearly 300 more people from October. Still, according to Statistics Canada, there are 3.2 per cent fewer Albertans receiving collecting federal assistance than there were in November 2013.
  • Wholesale trade reaches new heights

    Statistics Canada reports this morning that total wholesale trade reached $7.2 billion in November (seasonally adjusted), a new record for Alberta. And over the last 12-months, wholesale trade in our province is up eight per cent.
  • Lumber prices looking good in 2015

    While Albertans seem fixated on a certain commodity price that’s been tumbling lately, there’s some good news in other natural resource industries in the province. With a little help from our American friends and a favourable exchange rate, lumber producers are looking ahead to a great year.
  • How do you feel?

    The holidays have come and gone and like most Albertans you’re probably back in the thick of it at work. Let’s not forget about those holiday credit card bills; they’re probably starting to flood in as well. And the weather? In many parts of our province it’s brrrr!
  • Non-residential construction steady at end of 2014

    A slowdown may well be in the cards for Alberta’s construction sector. But in the fourth quarter of last year those bulldozers, cement trucks and cranes were still as busy as ever.
  • What US$50 oil means for producers

    As some energy companies announce cuts to their capital spending plans, it is now apparent that oil’s low price is starting to take a toll on some of Alberta’s oil producers. But, are these companies in real trouble and is US$50 oil actually sustainable?
  • Not all forecasts see Alberta's economy the same way

    With oil prices plummeting in recent months, there’s been intense interest in how Alberta’s economy will fare in 2015. Although economists wished we had a crystal ball, we have to settle for our best guesses and insights to forecast how things may turn out—and here there is some disagreement.
  • New housing: Investment intentions stay strong

    Investment in new housing construction reached the second highest level on record in Alberta last October. Statistics Canada reports that investment totalled close to $1.1 billion, a 23 per cent increase from 2013.
  • Home construction easing up

    Last week’s labour force survey didn’t show any signs of a jobs slowdown in Alberta—but a bit of a different picture could be painted on the home construction front.
  • Alberta's job market defies oil price plunge

    The rumours of the death of jobs in Alberta have been greatly exaggerated—at least so far. Despite crude oil hovering around $US 55 a barrel in December, our province actually saw a reasonable increase in employment.
  • Slow and steady for 2015

    It’s not surprising that a reduction in the price of oil has made ATB Financial’s Economic Outlook of interest to so many Albertans. Released this week, it summarizes research collected on our province’s most important sectors, covering the first quarter of 2015.
  • Bankruptcies still well below 2013 levels

    The majority of Alberta’s households managed to stave off the effects of oil’s price plunge in October with the rate of personal bankruptcies continuing to stay well below 2013 levels.
  • Farming costs on the rise

    Agriculture has been one of the leading sectors in Alberta’s economy over the past few years, helped out by generally strong livestock and commodity prices. But the price received by the farmer is only one half of the equation. The cost of farming is rising, too—and that cuts into profitability.
  • Unemployment rates in 2015

    Alberta’s unemployment rate in November was 4.5 per cent, a rate considered healthy and balanced. But as low oil prices start to grip the labour market in 2015, it’s anticipated that the unemployment rate will start to rise. What can we expect?
  • Shoppers keeping up the pace

    Malls, grocery stores and car dealerships across Alberta continued to see steady streams of shoppers in October, according to the latest report from Statistics Canada. Retailers rang in just under $6.7 billion in sales, matching the record high hit in September. Over the last twelve months, total sales were 8.2 per cent higher than total sales over the previous period.
  • Vacancy rates inch higher

    Apartment vacancy rates edged higher in October in both Edmonton and Calgary according to the fall rental market reports released by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
  • New vehicle sales stay the course

    Vehicle sales have managed to stay unblemished amid all the sour economic news, according to new data from Statistics Canada. October sales remained well above 2013 levels. The number of cars and trucks driving off Alberta lots was seven per cent higher than a year ago.
  • Manufacturing advances for second straight month

    With so much focus on the price of crude oil, it’s easy to overlook Alberta’s manufacturing industries where activity actually picked up in the fall.
  • Education levels linked to employment

    The link between education levels and employment is well understood—the longer you stay in school, the better your chances are of landing a job. New numbers from Statistics Canada provide some data to support this idea, underscoring the importance of investments in education.
  • Oil production not faltered by price

    Alberta’s crude oil producers don’t seem too troubled by the plethora of news stories and business columns detailing oil’s price plunge, at least according to new Statistics Canada data on oil supply and distribution.
  • Many Albertans struggling with low income

    It’s a festive time of year—and for many Albertans that means holiday shopping, fancy parties and plenty to eat and drink. But for many others, the merry spirit of the season may be crushed simply by the worry of making ends meet.
  • Building permits march on

    The value of building permits issued by Alberta’s municipalities rose by $87 million in October to $1.6 billion, according to new figures released by Statistics Canada. The increase from September was due in large part to the rise in the value of residential projects in our province.
  • Nearly three-quarters of us 'participate'

    If you’re an Albertan over the age of 15, you’re more likely to participate in the labour market than other Canadians, according to data collected as part of Statistics Canada’s monthly job market survey.
  • Jobs report shakes off falling energy prices

    If plummeting oil prices are expected to bring waves of layoffs in Alberta, it appears that companies in the province haven’t bought into the panic—at least not yet. In fact, last month the number of jobs in our province actually increased.
  • Personal bankruptcy numbers declining

    Across the country, the number of personal bankruptcies continued to decrease in September, with Alberta, once again, posting the largest decline over the past year.
  • Home renovators take a summertime break

    The proliferation of home renovation shows on TV may be an inspiration for some people to remodel their kitchen or add onto the family room. But last summer, it seems Albertans were perhaps spending more time watching TV than actually renovating.
  • Take heart, weary Christmas shopper!

    If you’re heading out this week to do some Christmas shopping, you may be discouraged by the parking and crowds of people. However, you can take heart in knowing that the items you’ll be purchasing probably cost less money than they did 30 years ago.
  • The rise of the foodie

    Alberta’s restaurants and bars cashed in strongly at the end of the summer. According to the latest Statistics Canada report, restaurants and bars in our province generated total receipts of $740 million (seasonally adjusted) in September—the second highest total ever recorded.
  • Forestry sector making gains

    Alberta’s forestry sector posted steady gains during the second quarter of this year. According to the Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA), the total value of lumber, pulp and paper and panelboard manufactured by the group’s members reached $728 million during the quarter.
  • Paycheques in our province

    Plenty of opportunities in Alberta have attracted thousands of job seekers over the past few years. But not all jobs—or paycheques—are created equal.
  • Livestock farmers take the lead in Q3

    Even though Alberta’s wheat and canola producers are seeing a slight dip in cash receipts compared to the record highs set in 2013, things aren’t all that bad down on the farm—especially on farms with livestock.
  • Oil price turbulence not rattling Alberta shoppers

    If lower oil prices are a potential problem for Alberta’s economy, they don’t appear to be slowing down shoppers in our province.
  • Employment insurance levels edge higher

    More Albertans collected federal employment insurance (E.I.) in September than in August—with 220 more people receiving payments (a 0.8 per cent increase). Over the past year, the number of Albertans collecting E.I. has fallen by four per cent.
  • Alberta's inflation ramps up

    The year-over-year increase of consumer prices in Alberta has shot up to one of its highest month rates in more than four years. According to the latest Statistics Canada report on inflation, prices in October rose by three per cent compared to a year ago.
  • Wholesale trade moves to record high

    Tracking the retail sales of stores and restaurants gives one indication of economic vitality, but another good measure is the amount of merchandise that the stores themselves have been purchasing. Wholesale trade, which is the sales activity before goods even get onto the store shelves, has hit a record high in Alberta.
  • The long run looks good for Alberta

    In late October, Goldman Sachs’ US$75 oil prediction took the media by storm. Since then, oil has been the topic of conversation, from news headlines to dinner parties.
  • New vehicle sales remain healthy

    Alberta’s new vehicle sales rebounded in September by six per cent, after a small sales drop in August.
  • Office tower costs escalating

    Consumers in Alberta often grumble about the rising prices for food, rent or other items they regularly purchase. And while the prices for many items in the basket of consumer goods and services have risen, most of them pale in comparison to the cost of building an office tower.
  • Manufacturing inches higher

    Refineries, factory floors and sawmills picked up a bit in September and that helped the province regain some of the drop in manufacturing experienced over the summer months.
  • Alberta's personal bankruptcies still falling fastest

    Personal bankruptcy in Alberta nearly reached its lowest point in almost 25 years in August, according to the latest statistics from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcies.
  • Employment growth has been about quantity and quality

    The strong jobs report on Friday of last week helped ease the concern that Canada’s economy is stuck in low gear. The country has now had two consecutive months of healthy job growth. And regionally, both the quantity and the quality of new jobs is improving the most on the Prairies.
  • More jobs added last month

    Alberta’s jobs market kept chugging along in October with a moderate but positive gain of 3,300 (new) jobs. But while the total number of jobs added last month was only moderate, what was more impressive was the quality of the new employment.
  • Calgary has the lowest tax on capital investment

    According to a new report published by the C.D. Howe institute, Calgary-based businesses have the lowest overall tax burden on capital investment in Canada.
  • Alberta's hot housing market expected to cool

    The frenzied housing environment in both Edmonton and Calgary is expected to moderate over the next two years according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) most recent Fall Housing Market Outlook
  • Vive la France!

    It was a symbolic yet powerful message this week when the President of France François Hollande touched down in Calgary and headed to the Banff Springs Hotel for a state luncheon.
  • Chemical industry still rebuilding

    The value of chemical manufacturing in Alberta has been trending higher lately, helping diversify the province’s economic base. But while chemical production is indeed up over the last couple of years, a longer term view tells a different story.
  • A spooky special edition

    They’re at every Halloween party, that creative gal or the cute couple that constructs an eye-popping, original costume. But, if you’re anything like the majority of Halloween-goers, you probably purchased your getup from a costume shop.
  • Albertans still earning the most

    Alberta’s hot job market continues to lure thousands of job seekers from across the country and around the world. But while job opportunities are plentiful, it’s also the fat paycheques that are attracting workers.
  • Time to turn up the heat!

    It’s not even Halloween, but already Albertans are bracing for the onset of winter and colder weather. With those frigid temperatures come higher home heating costs, and most homes in the province are heated with natural gas.
  • Alberta retail sales tell interesting story

    The newest Statistics Canada data reveal that Alberta’s retail sales numbers remained virtually unchanged from August’s record-setting month to September.
  • Fewer vehicles pull out of Alberta's dealerships in August

    Auto dealerships were a little less busy in August as new vehicle sales slipped six per cent from July.
  • Who needs workers?

    Labour shortages—or at least the perception of them—are a hot topic for Alberta’s employers. But are these labour shortages real, or are they mostly myth?
  • Fewer E.I. cheques issued in August

    The number of Albertans collecting federal employment insurance benefits dipped again in August, falling to 28,490. That’s down by 360 people from July.
  • August's wholesale numbers pick up again

    After July’s slight decline, wholesale figures rebounded marginally in August to 7.1 billion (adjusted for seasonality) according to Statistics Canada.
  • Alberta's R&D spending trails Ontario and Quebec

    Research and development is essential to productivity and economic growth. Curiously, despite Alberta’s strong labour market and entrepreneurial spirit, our R&D spending falls slightly below the national average.
  • Inflation picks up

    Not only did shoppers in Alberta face slightly higher prices in September than a year ago, the rate of increase is outpacing that in the rest of the country.
  • Alberta manufacturers singing the summertime blues

    Oil refineries and manufacturing shops across Alberta were all a bit quieter at the end of summer, according to new information from Statistics Canada.
  • Who's getting a pay raise in 2015?

    It’s been a great year for Alberta’s economy, and that’s being reflected in some nice fat paycheques. But what are employers thinking when it comes to next year’s salary adjustments?
  • Wages keeping pace with prices at the pump

    Expressing frustration over rising gasoline prices is a long-loved ritual in Alberta. But taking a long term view, working Albertans may not have much to complain about.
  • Job market roars back to life in September

    After shedding jobs over the summer, Alberta’s labour market was back in high gear at the beginning of fall.
  • Housing construction continues at strong pace

    Home builders in Alberta ended the summer of 2014 on a high note when construction started on a near record number of new homes.
  • Alberta's building permits continue to impress

    According to Statistics Canada, Alberta’s cities and towns issued a total of $1.8 billion in building permits in August, a three per cent increase from July.
  • Livestock prices uneven in August

    Prices for Alberta’s two largest livestock commodities moved in different directions at the end of the summer, according to the latest Farm Price Index from Statistics Canada.
  • Hotel accommodation rates on the rise in Alberta

    Staying in a hotel in Alberta is getting more expensive. The cost has been edging up over the last few years.
  • Exports slide in August

    This morning’s report on trade from Statistics Canada shows exports from Alberta tumbled in August.
  • Alberta's economy to remain strong

    The pace of economic expansion in Alberta is expected to remain solid throughout the rest of the year and into 2015, according to the latest quarterly outlook from ATB Financial’s economics group.
  • Alberta records lowest rate of personal bankruptcy

    New homes, fancy cars, expensive clothes—Albertans are in a spending mood these days. Household debt levels are near record highs. Still, there's evidence that Albertans are managing their debt well.
  • Restaurants and bars see more brisk business in July

    Whether it’s a pizza joint, steak house, or sushi bar—Albertans are gobbling up far more per capita than diners anywhere else in Canada.
  • Alberta attracts even more fellow Canadians

    Job seekers from other provinces are ensuring Alberta continues to have the fastest growing population in Canada by a considerable measure.
  • Oil by train booming in the West

    The number of railcars carrying oil through Western Canada increased in July, according to Statistics Canada’s most recent railway carloadings release.
  • Albertans working long hours

    Albertans are known for working long hours, but according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada, employees in another province clock in about 54 minutes more per week.
  • Potential labour shortage brewing

    Business confidence amongst Alberta’s small and medium-sized businesses took a slide last quarter, according to ATB Financial’s most recent Business Beat Survey.
  • Retail trade reaches new record

    The cacophony of cash registers rang a little louder across the province this July, sounding a new record in retail trade for Alberta.
  • Wholesaler activity slides for the first time this year

    Alberta’s wholesale figures fell following a record-breaking June, marking the first decrease since December 2013. Statistics Canada reports that sales by Alberta’s wholesalers dipped to $7.1 billion.
  • Inflation steady in August

    Prices for Alberta’s consumers rose 2.5 per cent last month compared to a year ago, according to this morning’s Consumer Price Index from Statistics Canada. That’s the very same level of annual increase posted in July.
  • Number of EI beneficiaries drops in July

    The number of Albertans collecting federal employment insurance benefits dipped in July. There were 28,520 people receiving cheques, down nearly 1,300 from June.
  • Alberta's population projected to climb

    The number of people living in Alberta will grow no matter what, according to the latest population projections by Statistics Canada.
  • Alberta physicians paid less in 2013

    Alberta doctors experienced a drop in salary for the first time in nearly a decade, according to the 2013 annual summary from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
  • Housing demand lifting lumber prices

    This year’s stabilization of lofty North American lumber prices is putting smiles on the faces of mill owners around Alberta.
  • Post-secondary costs lower in Alberta

    University students are back in the classroom. One thing they’re likely to talk about is the rising costs of education. Tuition fees are steep across the country, but students in Alberta are getting a relatively good deal.
  • New home prices differ in Edmonton and Calgary

    The rivalry between the Oilers and the Flames hasn’t even started for the season, but Alberta’s two cities are already battling it out—and this time, new home buyers in Edmonton are gaining the advantage.
  • Oil and gas producers busier in second quarter

    More oil and gas rigs, drilling equipment and heavy transportation vehicles were being used in the spring of 2014 compared to earlier quarters.
  • Alberta's oil hovers closer to benchmark WTI

    The price of crude oil—as tracked by the benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI)—has fallen to just below $95 (U.S.) per barrel lately. But the price many Alberta producers receive for their heavier quality oil has started to increase.
  • Building activity remains strong

    The cranes, bulldozers and cement trucks working on construction sites around the province aren’t going away any time soon, according to data released this morning from Statistics Canada.
  • Alberta's job market takes a hit

    Employment in Alberta cooled in August, marking the second month of decline and the largest single month of losses in more than five years.
  • Alberta's exports lift national total

    Earlier in 2014, exports were flat and failing to contribute to Canada’s economic growth. But lately, Alberta has been picking up the slack.
  • Alberta's business optimism improves

    Optimism amongst Alberta’s small and medium sized businesses improved in August, according to the latest Business Barometer survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
  • Personal bankruptcies ebb in June

    Albertans may be taking on personal debt in record volumes in 2014, but most appear to be managing their higher debt loads.
  • Economy back on track in spring

    After a shaky start to the year, the Canadian economy roared to life in the second quarter of 2014. The latest figures of total economic output from Statistics Canada showed that the economy grew by 3.1 per cent during the months of April, May and June.
  • Alberta employees see big jump in earnings

    Alberta wage earners racked up another sizeable increase in take home pay in June. According to the most recent data from Statistics Canada, average weekly earnings in this province rose to over $1,156.
  • Business optimism strong in Alberta

    Alberta’s small- and medium-sized businesses remain optimistic about future sales. They’re also feeling more confident in the future of the provincial economy.
  • Record year for gasoline sales in 2013

    Alberta gasoline sales reached new heights in 2013, according to the most recent Statistics Canada data on gasoline and petroleum fuels. Nearly 6.2 billion litres of gasoline were sold.
  • Hog prices on the decline

    Prices are on the decline in Alberta. Last week, the price of pork fell from $2.360/kg to $2.240/kg, posting the biggest drop this year.
  • Inflation picks up in Alberta

    Consumers in Alberta saw prices rise, on average, at a faster pace in July than they did in June, according to this morning’s Consumer Price Index report from Statistics Canada.
  • Not all unemployed collect benefits

    The number of Albertans collecting employment insurance (E.I.) in June was essentially unchanged from May. At 29,110, the number continues a two-year trend of staying close to 30,000.
  • Wholesale trade rockets to record high

    The value of sales by Alberta wholesalers topped $7 billion in June, according to the latest numbers released this morning from Statistics Canada.
  • Alberta's R&D spending on the rise

    Alberta companies stepped up the spending on research and development (R&D) in 2012, according to the latest report on enterprise characteristics from Statistics Canada.
  • Manufacturing on a tear in June

    The value of manufacturing shipments in Alberta reached a new record high in June at just under $7 billion, adjusted for seasonality. According to the latest numbers from Statistics Canada, manufacturing racked up $6.925 billion in sales in June, a big jump (+4.7 per cent) from the previous month.
  • Alberta's job market takes a breather in July

    Employment levels in Alberta showed little change in July, according to a revised labour force survey released this morning by Statistics Canada. Part-time employment rose by 9,000 positions, almost enough to offset a drop in full-time employment of 10,400.
  • Calgary new home prices outpacing Edmonton's

    It continues to be a tale of two cities in Alberta when it comes to the price of a new home—and the tales in Edmonton and Calgary couldn’t be more different.
  • Office building costs rising steadily

    Alberta’s two major cities are enjoying some strong activity in non-residential construction, much of it in office buildings. This skyline transformation comes with a hefty price tag.
  • Alberta housing starts return to normal in July

    After an unusual spike in June, Alberta’s new housing starts are settling down to a level much more consistent with the long term trend.
  • Small businesses account for large share of total

    Major corporations in energy, transportation and utilities are often what come to mind when people think of business in Alberta. But while large companies dominate the skylines in Edmonton and Calgary, they actually account for a tiny fraction of the number of companies in the province.
  • New vehicle sales hit three year high

    Automobile purchases in Alberta increased yet again over the last couple of months to reach a three year high. According to the latest Statistics Canada data, 26,584 new vehicles were sold in May, making up 13.4 per vent of the national total. That’s just 124 more than were sold in May of last year, for an increase of half a percentage point.
  • Power prices fall to 12 year lows

    The cost of electricity in Alberta has bounced around over the last few years. But the most recent survey of consumer prices suggests Albertans are paying about the same for electrical power as they did more than a decade ago.
  • Ratio of part-time jobs lower in Alberta

    Alberta’s labour market has been the job factory of the country over the last year. According to Statistics Canada, the province added 81,800 jobs between June 2013 and June 2014. Canada, as a whole, added just 72,300.
  • Alberta's unemployment rate globally impressive

    Alberta is the envy of Canada, at least when it comes to finances. Our economy leads the nation, particularly in job creation and a low unemployment rate. Alberta’s unemployment rate currently sits at 4.9 per cent, holding second place behind Saskatchewan's 3.9 per cent.
  • Cattle prices continue to rise

    It’s peak grilling season and you may have noticed yourself double checking the price of that rib eye at the supermarket. That’s because cattle prices have hit extreme highs lately.
  • Housing starts by region reveal population trends

    Canada’s new housing starts have mirrored the trends in interprovincial migration over the last decade, as well as growth in provincial GDP. This is to be expected, somewhat.
  • Less spare capacity in oil and gas extraction

    Canadian industries were operating at a slightly higher level of activity in the first quarter of this year. But most sectors pale in comparison to the fever pitch of oil and gas extraction.
  • Grain and oilseed prices dip

    Canadian grain and oilseed farmers are hoping for better news on the horizon. After a gang-buster year for both production and price in 2013, this summer is sewing its share of disappointments.
  • Research and development funding on the rise

    Alberta’s postsecondary institutions are receiving and spending more money on research and development (R&D) than they were ten years ago. According to Statistics Canada, total R&D spending in the sciences was $1.26 billion in 2012-13. That’s up 73 per cent from ten years ago.
  • Trades people's wages rising slower than average

    The shortage of work for skilled trades people in Alberta has pushed wages higher over the last decade. Unionized wages have been on the rise—although not as dramatically as one might expect.
  • Alberta family incomes lead the country

    Families in Alberta’s two largest cities are enjoying the highest household incomes in the country. Looking at data from personal income tax returns, Statistics Canada determined Calgary had the highest median total family income (before tax) of all census metropolitan areas in 2012, at $98,300. Edmonton families were close behind at $96,030.
  • Retail sales inch higher in May

    Alberta shoppers filled their carts a bit more in May than they did in the previous month, stopping just short of the record-setting month they had in March.
  • Job vacancy rates differ across sectors

    The percentage of jobs left unfilled is higher in Alberta than in any other province, according to the latest job vacancy report released this morning by Statistics Canada.
  • Forestry shipments continue to climb

    Alberta’s forestry sector gained momentum in the first three months of this year, according to the latest financial report from the Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA).
  • Albertans still lead when it comes to dining out

    Albertans have solidified their lead over other provinces in the amount of money they spend eating out each month. Statistics Canada reports that total receipts from eating and drinking establishments were $728.1 million dollars (seasonally adjusted) in April. That is higher than British Columbia’s—a province that has half a million more residents.
  • Sales of non-energy exports reach post-recession high

    The value of Alberta’s international exports rose to $10.52 billion in May, thanks partly to higher sales of agricultural, forestry and other non-energy products. The slight increase over April represents one of the highest amounts in the last five years, according to Statistics Canada.
  • Personal bankruptcies falling fastest in Alberta

    Personal bankruptcies are declining throughout Canada, according to the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB). And no where are they falling faster than in Alberta.
  • Alberta's Heritage Fund earns $2.1 billion

    Alberta’s long-term savings fund earned a record net income of $2.1 billion in 2013-2014. Created in 1976 as a way to save resource revenue for future generations, the Heritage Fund now has $17.5 billion in net assets (fair value) and earns a 16.0 per cent rate of return (net of fees).
  • Alberta earnings continue to rise

    Paycheques of Alberta employees rose to another record high in April as companies and businesses feel the pressure of labour shortages. Statistics Canada reports the average weekly earnings of employees in the province rose to $1,141.70 in April, up 4.3 per cent from a year ago.
  • Albertans bit by travel bug

    Albertans are becoming increasingly interested in world travel. According to new Statistics Canada data, the number of Canadian residents returning to Alberta from foreign destinations reached a record high in April of 337,951 people. That’s 2.0 per cent more travellers than in March 2014. Year-over-year, return trips from foreign destinations increased 6.3 per cent.
  • Edmonton businesses pay less

    Edmonton-based businesses pay lower taxes than their counterparts in any other city in Canada, according to a new report from KPMG. The Competitive Alternatives 2014: Focus on Tax report analyzed 107 cities in 10 nations. Of the 15 Canadian jurisdictions studied, Edmonton scored the number one spot for lowest taxes.
  • Albertans top the country in cell phone use

    More households in Alberta have cell phones than in any other province in Canada. According to new survey numbers from Statistics Canada, 91 per cent of homes in the province have at least one mobile phone.
  • Inflation moderates in Alberta but picks up nationally

    The price of consumer goods is on the rise this spring. According to Statistics Canada, Albertans paid 2.5 per cent more for items in May than they did a year previous.
  • Alberta employment insurance numbers stabilize

    The number of Albertans collecting regular employment insurance (E.I.) benefits fell this spring. According to Statistics Canada, there were 29,280 beneficiaries in the province in April. That figure, adjusted for seasonality, is down very slightly (-0.1 per cent) from March. It is levelling off after falling steadily in the wake of the 2009 economic recession.
  • Alberta population growth fastest in Canada

    Alberta’s population continues to grow at a rate far faster than the national average. According to new estimates released this morning by Statistics Canada, the province’s population on the first day of April this year was 4,111,509. Canada’s total population was 35,427,524.
  • Energy provinces see higher value shipments per worker

    Ontario and Quebec may be the industrial manufacturing heartland of Canada but both fall below other less likely provinces in terms of the dollar value of manufacturing per employee.
  • Canada's wheat goes global

    Canada produces much more grain than the country can consume, so much of our wheat is sold to the rest of the world. According to Statistics Canada, Canada’s international wheat exports totalled 16.4 million tonnes between May 2013 and April 2014. Exports of durum wheat, which is used to make pasta, added another 4.4 million tonnes.
  • Singing the homebuyer blues

    People looking to purchase an existing home in Calgary or Edmonton might be feeling irritated and discouraged. There isn’t a lot on the market these days and what is available is going up in price.
  • Calgary office development leads the country

    Calgary now has the biggest office development market in Canada, according to a recent real estate report by Avison Young. With almost 8.9 million square feet, Calgary surpassed Toronto for first place in 2013. While Calgary's market is advancing, Edmonton’s needs to shift gears.
  • High school graduates earning more

    High school graduates often pursue a post-secondary education in the hopes of landing bigger paycheques in the future. But here in Alberta, the earnings of people who choose to work right out of high school are starting to catch up with their more educated peers.
  • Alberta absenteeism lowest in Canada

    Workers in Alberta took the fewest days off last year. According to Statistics Canada, the total number of days taken per worker in 2013 was just 7.7. New Brunswick and PEI had the highest at 10.7. Nationally, the number of days lost per worker was 9.1, down from 9.3 in 2012.
  • Alberta's employment market bounces back

    After a minor drop of 2,900 jobs in April, Alberta’s economy showed a strong rebound in May with the addition of 16,400 new jobs (a 0.7 per cent increase from April). This increase helped the province’s unemployment rate fall a tenth of a percentage point to 4.6 per cent.
  • Vacancy rates pushing rental prices higher

    A strong employment environment and positive migration numbers are driving Alberta's apartment vacancy rates down.
  • International travellers picking Alberta

    Alberta is becoming an increasingly popular choice with travellers from abroad. With the first day of summer just around the corner, many are making their final plans to visit Wild Rose Country over the next few months.
  • Alberta's new housing price divide

    Alberta’s housing market is a tale of two cities. Since March of 2009, Calgary’s new house and land prices have increased 19.7 and 30.7 per cent, respectively. The story is a bit different in Alberta’s capital.
  • Alberta business optimism rises in May

    Alberta's small and medium-sized businesses were feeling more optimistic last month. According to the latest Business Barometer survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), confidence was higher in May than it was all of last year.
  • National economic output slows in Q1

    Growth in Canada’s economy slumped during the first quarter of the year to less than half the pace of the previous quarter. It is the slowest it's been in more than a year.
  • Earnings in Alberta keep rising

    Weekly earnings in Alberta are the highest they've been in almost a year, according to a report released this morning from Statistics Canada.
  • Mixed first quarter results for farmers

    Alberta farm cash receipts reached nearly $3.2 billion in the first three months of this year. That’s not quite a record, but still the third highest quarter in the province’s history.
  • Alberta could move up the population ranks

    The population rankings of Canada’s provinces rarely change. The last time it happened was 52 years ago when Manitoba overtook Saskatchewan's place as the fifth most populous province. If current trends continue, the rankings will be rewritten again in less than nine years.
  • Alberta takes second place in resource employment

    Alberta’s rich resource sectors keep thousands of workers happily employed. According to Statistics Canada, more than 10.5 per cent of the province’s workers have jobs in agriculture, oil and gas, fishing, mining and forestry. But just one province east, the percentage jumps to 12.7 per cent—the highest in the country.
  • Pace of consumer inflation eases in Alberta

    The rate of annual price increases for Albertans fell in April to 2.7 per cent, according to this morning’s release of the Consumer Price Index. That’s down from a multi-year high of 3.9 per cent recorded in March. Nationally, the rate of inflation was 2.0 per cent, the highest it’s been in two years and exactly the favoured target rate of the Bank of Canada.
  • Retail trade rises to another high

    Shoppers in Alberta opened their wallets wide in March—wide enough to vault spending to another record high.
  • Female business operators in Alberta younger than males

    Female entrepreneurs in Alberta tend to be younger than their male counterparts, according to a recent study of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Alberta.
  • Managing cash flow during slower months

    The latest ATB Business Beat survey shows small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are using a variety of methods to manage their finances. SMEs are the lifeblood of Alberta’s economy—in many smaller towns and cities, they are the primary source of employment—so keeping on top of cash flow fluctuations is paramount.
  • Hog prices on the rise

    Hog prices in Alberta reached record highs in March of this year, according to Statistics Canada’s regular monthly report on farm commodity prices.
  • Rising prices boost manufacturing numbers

    Manufacturers across the province have been busier than they’ve been in months, according to the latest information from Statistics Canada. March shipments of manufactured goods rose to $6.6 billion (seasonally adjusted)—a 1.7 per cent increase over the previous month.
  • Office construction costs climb

    The cost of building new office towers in Edmonton and Calgary is on the rise, according to Statistics Canada’s quarterly Non-residential Building Construction Price Index. In the first quarter of this year, prices rose to an index of 169.1 in Edmonton, and 169.4 in Calgary.
  • Long term unemployment not as long in Alberta

    Alberta’s most recent unemployment rate of 4.7 per cent is more than two percentage points below the national rate of 6.9 per cent. Not only are there proportionately fewer people unemployed in Alberta, but those who are tend to be without work for a shorter amount of time.
  • Lumber prices slump in April

    North American lumber prices dipped in April to $US 365 per thousand board feet, according to new numbers from an American forestry organization. The prices are down a small amount from the beginning of the year when they were closer to $400. They’re down even more compared to April of last year when prices peaked at $436.
  • Alberta shed jobs in April

    Total employment in Alberta slipped by 2,900 positions in April, the second consecutive month of losses. However, the total labour force contracted by an even larger amount (down 7,000 in April). As a result, the unemployment rate fell from 4.9 per cent in March to 4.7 per cent in April.
  • New home prices in Alberta's major cities

    Prices of new homes in Calgary have posted the largest year-over-year increase among any city in Canada, according to new numbers from Statistics Canada. At the same time, prices in Edmonton have fallen flat.
  • Building permits rise in March

    The value of building permits issued by cities and municipalities across Alberta rose slightly in March to $1.312 billion, according to new numbers from Statistics Canada. That increase over February is due entirely to a rise in the value of non-residential projects.
  • Alberta exports jump in March

    The value of exports from Alberta to the rest of the world jumped to $10.3 billion in March, up about 17 per cent over February. Total exports from Alberta are up by 11.9 per cent over the last year compared to the previous 12-month period.
  • More oil moving by rail

    The number of rail cars carrying oil through western Canada reached an all-time record in January of this year at 12,735.
  • Rental costs keeping pace with inflation

    Renters in Alberta may not believe it, but rents in the province have kept pace almost precisely with overall consumer prices. Setting the March 2004 prices of both rents and the all-items basket of consumer goods equal to 100, the index value of rent in March of this year was 126.7—meaning rents, on average, have increased by 26.7 per cent. The index value for the all-items basket has risen to 126.9.
  • Alberta faces little risk from Russian conflict

    Russia’s current aggressions in Ukraine are raising concerns about potential trade sanctions. Canada, the United States, and some European countries have imposed diplomatic sanctions and restrictions against certain Russians from entering their countries. Larger trade sanctions could lead to a trade war.
  • We work hard for the money

    While jobs are plentiful in Alberta, there’s no free ride for those who come to work. In fact, Alberta is home to the longest work week in Canada.
  • Strong and stable growth in Alberta

    Alberta’s economy hummed along at a near-optimal speed last year, according to the latest calculations from Statistics Canada. The national statistics agency reported that Alberta’s real gross domestic product expanded by 3.9 per cent in 2013. That was nearly double the national rate of 2.0 per cent.
  • The reality of youth unemployment

    Contrary to popular belief, today's graduates have ample employment opportunities. They just aren't the kind of jobs most of them want after working hard to achieve a higher education.
  • The not-so-temporary foreign worker

    The number of temporary foreign worker positions in Alberta spiked more than sevenfold in seven years. According to Employment and Social Development Canada, the number of jobs jumped from 10,245 in 2005, to 84,465 in 2012.
  • Farmers boost deliveries in March

    Grain and oilseed producers in Alberta delivered more than 1.46 million tonnes of product last month, according to the latest Statistics Canada survey of millers and producers.
  • Shoppers lift sales to another record high

    Albertan consumers didn’t let nasty winter weather slow them down in February. Retailers racked up $6.47 billion in sales that month, surpassing the previous record set in January. The figure is adjusted to account for seasonality.
  • Wholesale trade vaults to new record

    Wholesale trade rose to $6.82 billion (adjusted for seasonality) in Alberta this February. This marks the second consecutive month of significant gains, enough to reach a new record high.
  • Job vacancy rates highest in Alberta

    Employers in Alberta leave more jobs unfilled than their counterparts in any other province, according to the latest Job Vacancy report from Statistics Canada.
  • Inflation heats up in Alberta

    Consumer prices in Alberta posted their highest year-over-year increase in more than five years, according to the latest inflation figures from Statistics Canada. Annual inflation shot up to 3.9 per cent in March.
  • New office towers lift construction activity

    The value of non-residential construction in Alberta picked up in the first quarter of 2014, edging closer to the record highs recorded in late 2008.
  • Manufacturing fails to launch

    Most of Alberta’s economic indicators are showing healthy gains, but one set of data is pointing to sluggishness.
  • Alberta's participation rate highest in Canada

    Nearly three-quarters of Alberta’s population works outside the home, a statistic that reflects the strong employment opportunities that exist in the province.
  • Alberta keeps giving

    When we think about spending money, retail sales are what usually come to mind. After all, Albertans did spend more than $6.42 billion at malls, shops and car dealerships in January. However, they're not just putting more of their hard-earned cash towards consumer goods. Albertans are also giving more to people in need.
  • Popping the cork on wine sales in Alberta

    Albertans are enjoying more of the good things in life, including the odd glass of wine. According to Statistics Canada, wine consumption in the province has nearly doubled over the last two decades from 9.5 litres to 18.5 litres per person per year. That’s slightly higher than the national average of 17.4 litres.
  • Calgary office tower permits pull back

    The value of commercial building permits in Calgary waned at the beginning of this year. According to Statistics Canada, building permits issued for commercial projects totalled $132.2 million in February and only $76.7 million in January. Still, the overall the long-term trend remains very positive.
  • Housing starts keep market in balance

    Home builders in Alberta geared back up in March after a slight pause in February. According to data compiled from Statistics Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, construction started on just shy of 40,000 new homes.
  • Livestock seeing better prices in 2014

    Alberta cattle prices reached a record high of $124.50 per hundredweight in February, according to the latest Farm Product Price report from Statistics Canada. The price is the average price for slaughter cattle over the month. Other sources show that prices moderated over the month of March, but not considerably.
  • Alberta's job market takes a "spring break"

    Despite a pause in March, Alberta's job market is hottest in the country.
  • Wining and dining our way to a new record

    Patrons at Alberta’s food and drinking establishments spent their way to another record high in January.
  • Engineering the recovery

    Engineering services a burgeoning business in Alberta.
  • Forestry shows further improvements

    Alberta’s forestry sector continued to grow in the fourth quarter of last year, lifting the value of overall production to the highest annual total in six years.
  • Alberta shows average spending on performing arts

    How does Alberta stack up against the other provinces in performing arts revenue?
  • Big ticket items top the shopping list

    Albertans love to shop, but their favourite retail item may come as a surprise. According to new numbers from Statistics Canada, the most popular place for Albertans to spend their money is auto dealerships.
  • Job vacancies differ by sector

    It’s a good time to be a jobseeker in Alberta. It's especially good if you’re looking for work in the food and accommodation industry.
  • Grocery shoppers experiencing sticker shock

    Food prices in Alberta are rising faster than most other consumer items. Setting the index of the all-items basket of goods in February 2004 equal to 100, Statistics Canada's latest index of consumer prices stood at 125.0—meaning general prices have risen by 25 per cent over the last ten years. For food purchased at stores, the index last month was 131.8.
  • Retails sales boost to kick off the New Year

    After pausing in December, Albertans came rushing back to malls, shops and car dealerships with purchases of over $6.42 billion in January. That’s an increase of 3.5 per cent from the previous month. The figures are adjusted to account for seasonal variation, so the predictable post-Christmas dip in retail sales is factored in.
  • Employment Insurance numbers remain stable

    The number of Albertans receiving regular employment insurance (E.I.) benefits in January 2014 was a fraction lower than in December. But at 29,370 (seasonally adjusted), it has remained essentially unchanged since late 2011.
  • Migration to Alberta speeds population growth

    Alberta’s population is growing faster than that of any other province. According to Statistics Canada, Alberta’s total population was 4,082,571 at the beginning of this year—an annual increase of 3.4 per cent. That is by far the fastest rate of growth among all provinces and close to three times the national growth rate of 1.2 per cent.
  • Alberta's accommodation sector sees record revenues

    Travel and tourism is big business in Alberta. Whether vacationers come to ski or shop, or business travellers arrive for a meeting or convention, they all need a place to sleep. And in Alberta, new records are being set by hotel operators who provide those comfy beds.
  • Farm rental income on the rise

    Alberta agricultural land owners are using an unusual way to diversify their income—and it doesn’t involve growing crops.
  • Trade deal good news for Alberta

    Canada’s new free trade deal with South Korea could be hugely beneficial to exporters, including those from Alberta. Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed the deal earlier this week.
  • Picking up the slack

    Canadian industries are doing a better job of living up to their potential, according to new numbers from Statistics Canada. The federal agency reports the country’s industrial capacity utilization rate rose to 82.0 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2013, equalling the high point it reached in the spring of 2012.
  • Livestock farmers see prices move up

    Hog and cattle farmers in Alberta are getting a double dose of good news this week. According to the latest Farm Product Price release from Statistics Canada, the price in Alberta for cattle shot up to $122.71 per hundred weight in January of this year—the highest price in years.
  • Alberta flexing its foreign muscles

    Alberta companies are performing well on the international stage, according to the latest information to come from a Statistics Canada survey.
  • Home builders take a breather

    Alberta’s home developers started fewer new houses in February than they did in January. The annualized pace of housing starts was down about nine per cent to 35,698.
  • Alberta's job market revs up

    February’s job report puts to rest any lingering notions that Alberta’s labour market is shifting into lower gear. If anything, it may sound the alarm that the economy is galloping ahead too quickly.
  • Construction set for a busy year

    Building permits are an excellent way to look into the future of development activity. Judging by fresh statistics this morning, Alberta construction companies have a busy year ahead. Building permits issued for construction projects in Alberta rose to $1.7 billion in January, up 25.5 per cent from the previous month.
  • Head hunters ride the job market high

    Alberta’s strong labour market and excellent career opportunities are benefits to workers looking for jobs, but it does increase the difficulty for companies trying to find good staff. One sector is benefiting in a unique way from this divide: companies that provide employment services.
  • Bankruptcies drop despite record debt

    Personal bankruptcy in Alberta is at its lowest point in nearly a quarter of a century, according to the latest figures from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcies. The federal agency reports that only 284 Alberta households declared personal bankruptcy in December. That is a drop of close to 40 from November and less than half the five-year average of 594 per month.
  • Industrial concrete prices on the rise

    The price received for ready-mixed concrete in the three Prairie provinces rose in January of this year, unchanged from the previous month but up from a year ago. The price is measured by the Industrial Product Price Index (IPPI), a monthly index produced by Statistics Canada. In January, the index value for concrete was 111.5, up from 108.0 a year ago.
  • Economy takes a year-end nosedive

    The Canadian economy shifted into reverse at the end of 2013. New data released from Statistics Canada show the total value of goods and services in the economy shrank by 0.5 per cent in December compared to the previous month. The loss was concentrated in the goods-producing industries which contracted 0.9 per cent. The service sector, on the other hand, fell by a more moderate 0.3 per cent.
  • Guys have the popular edge

    Yesterday’s Owl examined the gender split in Alberta’s labour market, showing that women are less likely to be unemployed than their male counterparts. There's a viable reason why this might be the case: in Alberta, there seems to be an abundance of men.
  • Alberta women less likely to be jobless

    In the battle of the sexes, women in Alberta appear to be at a slight advantage—at least when it comes to rates of unemployment. In January, 4.3 per cent of women in the province’s labour force were actively looking for work compared to 4.8 per cent for men.
  • Food prices keep pace with total price inflation

    Shoppers in the grocery stores may be shocked by food prices lately, particularly for fresh fruits and vegetables. But consumers may also be surprised to realize that food prices in Alberta are staying in line with the rise in overall consumer prices.
  • A true measure of consumer confidence

    Over the last few years, Albertans have been expressing confidence in the economy—and their expected incomes—by opening their wallets to spend, spend, spend. But rising retail spending can also be the result of a growing population and higher prices.
  • Household prices heat up in Alberta

    Consumers in Alberta had a few surprises at the cash register in January. The year-over-year increase in the consumer price index—the broadest measure of price inflation for households—rose to its highest level in two years.
  • Employment insurance levels stabilize in 2013

    The number of Albertans receiving regular employment insurance (E.I.) benefits rose slightly at the end of 2013, but was essentially unchanged through the course of last year. In December, 29,720 people collected E.I. (seasonally adjusted)—just slightly higher than in November. Over the entire year, the number of employment insurance recipients province-wide dropped 1.5 per cent from 2012.
  • Wholesale trade slides for a second month

    The value of Alberta wholesaler activity slipped to $6.44 billion in December. The dip of close to 2.6 per cent from the previous month represents the second month of declines. Over the entire twelve months of 2013, wholesaler receipts were up a mere 2.0 per cent compared to 2012.
  • Alberta slower to apply advanced technology

    New research from Statistics Canada suggests Alberta businesses are lagging behind in their use of new advanced technology. The Survey of Innovation and Business Strategy shows 36.5 per cent of companies from all industries in the country were actively applying new technologies to their operations.
  • Manufacturing ends the year on a flat note

    Many economic indicators posted impressive gains in Alberta last year, but at least one indicator remained stuck in first gear. The value of manufacturing shipments slipped to $6.22 billion in December (adjusted for seasonality), down 2.8 per cent from the previous month. For the entire year, manufacturing was only fractionally higher (+1.8 per cent) compared to 2012.
  • New homebuyers in Edmonton getting a break

    People in the market for a new home in Calgary may be facing a price shock these days—at least compared to their northern counterparts.
  • The source of so many newcomers

    The stampede of job seekers to Alberta from other provinces reached a record high in 2013. We often assume Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan are where we get most of our new arrivals, but for most of the last twenty years, Ontario has been the largest source of migrants moving to Alberta.
  • Housing starts pick up in January

    Housing starts in Alberta edged up to 39,210 in January, marking a small increase from December. Over the last 12 months ending January 2014, total housing starts are up 9.2 per cent compared to the previous 12-month period.
  • Alberta leads in micro-enterprises

    Large corporations may dominate the headlines but they don’t even amount to one per cent of total business operations in Alberta. Of the nearly 169,000 businesses in the province, only 386 of them (0.2 per cent) have more than 500 employees. The other 99.8 per cent are small- and medium-sized enterprises.
  • Alberta employment sputters back to life in January

    After ending 2013 on a sour note, Alberta’s job market appears to be picking up in 2014 where it left off last fall. There was a gain of 6,600 new jobs in the province in January (seasonally adjusted)—a modest yet positive increase—roughly in line with the average number of jobs created monthly over the last two years.
  • Alberta canola prices sliding

    Last year went on record as one of the most productive for farmers in Alberta. But lately, one of the province’s principal cash crops has been taking a price hit.
  • Calgary building permits outpacing northern rival's

    The Battle of Alberta may play out most famously in the hockey arena, but when it comes to proposed construction activity, Calgary appears to have the edge over Edmonton.
  • Alberta businesses upbeat on economy

    Small- and medium-sized business owners in Alberta are painting a positive picture of the province’s economy going into 2014. According to the February 2014 ATB Business Beat, optimism about own business operations reached a high of 72.3 in the fourth quarter of 2013.
  • Personal bankruptcies fall to a pre-recession low

    Record levels of household debt don’t seem to be causing a problem for most Alberta consumers, at least according to the latest figures from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada.
  • Oil and gas lift Canada's economic output

    Canada’s economic output expanded by 0.2 per cent in November (month-over-month), a fifth consecutive month of expansion. Statistics Canada’s newest numbers match the consensus forecast of economists for the total value of goods and services produced nationwide.
  • Average earnings still outpace cost of living

    We all like to complain about rising prices but for most employees in Alberta, paycheque increases are more than keeping up with inflation.
  • Albertans stay attached to work force longer

    Tens of thousands of Canadians flock to Alberta for the excellent job opportunities. According to Statistics Canada, that popularity doesn’t reduce with age.
  • Food processing shows slow-but-steady growth

    The slow food movement has shown people that good food comes to those who have the patience to wait instead of getting a quick fix from the microwave. According to new numbers from Statistics Canada, Alberta’s food manufacturing sector is also finding value in that slow-but-steady approach.
  • Farmers running into delivery challenge

    Excellent summer growing conditions and the bumper crops that resulted from them put smiles on farmers’ faces across the Prairies last year. Despite this, total deliveries from the farm gate actually dropped in 2013.
  • Price inflation picks up speed

    Yesterday’s Owl revealed that Alberta shoppers were piling their carts high and ringing in record high spending at the end of last year. But they may have also noticed that some prices have started to creep higher.
  • Retail therapy alive and well in Alberta

    Shoppers in Alberta rang up a record $6.26 billion in purchases last November (adjusted for seasonality), an increase of 0.6 per cent from October’s total. Over the last twelve months, total retail sales are up 6.2 per cent from the preceding twelve-month period.
  • Surprise province tops per capita manufacturing

    Central Canada often dominates our thinking when it comes to manufacturing in this country—from heavy industrial fabrication plants to auto assembly and even aerospace facilities. But on a per capita basis, one province unexpectedly takes top honours.
  • Office building prices steady with inflation

    Construction cranes are a prominent feature of Alberta’s city skylines as developers build shiny, new office towers. Just as the buildings are on the rise, so is their price—but at a stable, moderate pace.
  • Outlook brightens for lumber prices

    Alberta lumber producers are looking forward to some great results in 2014 thanks to an upswing in the U.S. housing market and a Canadian dollar that’s about 10 per cent lower than a year ago.
  • Building activity picks up steam

    The pace of non-residential construction in Alberta finished 2013 on a strong note with all three categories of building projects showing an increase over the previous quarter.
  • Slumping loonie not just a U.S. Dollar story

    The drop in the value of the Canadian dollar has been making big news in recent weeks. The price of one Canadian dollar dropped 9.9 per cent in one year—from $US 1.0152 on January 16, 2013 (noon rate), to $US 0.9147 yesterday. Proportionately, it has fallen even more against the British Pound and the Euro (11.9 per cent).
  • Alberta and Saskatchewan in migration rivalry

    The abundance of Saskatchewan Roughriders fans in Calgary and Edmonton might lead you to believe the flow of interprovincial migration has been in one direction. But according to the latest report on from Statistics Canada, Alberta lost 2,423 people to Saskatchewan in the third quarter of last year.
  • Price of meat outpaces Alberta inflation

    Barbequed steak and roasted chicken are two favourite dishes here in Alberta. Price-conscious shoppers have likely noticed the cost of putting these preferred cuts of meat on the table is going up. In fact, it’s outpacing overall inflation in the province.
  • Not all jobs have been created equal

    Over the last three years, Alberta has been Canada’s job creation machine. More than 202,000 new jobs have been created since December 2010, around when the province came out of recession. That accounts for more than a third of all the new positions in the country. But a closer look at the data reveals quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality.
  • Employment takes a nosedive in December

    After five months of expansion, Alberta ended 2013 with a sizable drop in the number of people working. According to Statistics Canada, employment fell by 11,700 (seasonally adjusted) in December—the biggest single monthly drop in almost four years. As a result, the unemployment rate rose by one tenth of a percentage point to 4.8 per cent.
  • Building permits remain strong

    Construction activity is one of the pillars of Alberta’s economy. It provides amply employment and boosts gross domestic product. Judging by new data on building permits, that activity—and the spending that comes along will it—will continue through 2014.
  • Alberta to open India trade office

    Alberta is expanding its international horizons with the opening of a trade office in India. Premier Alison Redford will open the New Delhi office during a trade mission this week. While not the same economic powerhouse as China, India is the world’s second largest country by population and a potentially huge market for Canadian exporters.
  • Employment linked to education levels

    A new study from Statistics Canada is giving weight to the old adage, “Stay in school.” Education Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective compares rates of employment to the levels of education people attain. All three Prairie provinces performed slightly better than the average for the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group of 34 of the wealthiest and most developed countries in the world.
  • Refinery product prices mixed in November

    Consumers are always happy to see lower prices at the pump. But good news for consumers is bad news for producers—the petroleum refineries across the Prairies.
  • Alberta shoppers set another record high

    New data on retail sales in Alberta bode well for the Christmas shopping season of 2013, which will reach a fever pitch this weekend. According to Statistics Canada, shoppers rang up $6.22 billion in October, adjusted for seasonality. The 0.2 per cent jump from September was the fourth consecutive month of increase, setting a new record high.
  • Employment Insurance levels find new normal

    The number of Albertans collecting employment insurance (EI) benefits climbed slightly in October to 29,300 (seasonally adjusted). New data from Statistics Canada shows this fractional rise from September’s 28,950. Compared with October of last year, there are 800 fewer people collecting benefits in the province.
  • Alberta in-migration on track to surpass record

    Great job opportunities and a fantastic quality of life are drawing thousands of people to Alberta from across the country. Statistics Canada’s latest estimates peg Alberta’s total population on Oct. 1, 2013, at 4,060,719.
  • Manufacturing picks up the pace

    Shipments of manufactured goods in Alberta rose 2.7 per cent month-over-month in October to $6.44 billion (seasonally adjusted). That is the second highest they’ve been since November of 2011. Nationally, Canadian manufacturing rose by 1.0 per cent to $50.1 billion.
  • Alberta apartment vacancy rates lowest in Canada

    Alberta is likely the best place to be in Canada if you’re looking for work. But if you need a place to live along with that new job, you might run into some problems.
  • Oil and gas extraction tightens up

    The amount of spare capacity in the Canadian economy shrank a small amount in the third quarter of 2013. Much of this tightening came as a result of a higher capacity utilization in oil and gas extraction.
  • New home prices edge higher in October

    The price of buying a new home in Alberta’s two major cities climbed a bit in October, according to the latest press release from Statistics Canada. Both Edmonton and Calgary saw prices tick up a tenth of a percentage point from the previous month. However, the two cities have experienced different price movements over the long term.
  • Alberta hog prices moving up

    After suffering low prices for most of the period between 2006 and 2011, Alberta hog prices are finally gaining some traction. According to Statistics Canada, prices averaged more than $80 per hundredweight over the five months leading up to October. They peaked at $90 in July—the highest since June of 2004.
  • Alberta sets strong pace for new homes

    Housing starts in Alberta made an impressive leap in November, jumping 13 per cent higher than they were in October. According to Statistics Canada, home builders started construction on 42,206 new houses in the province, making last month only the second time the total has exceeded the 40,000 mark since 2007.
  • Small business sentiment ramping up

    It may be cold outside, but optimism is heating up for small- and medium-sized businesses in Alberta and Canada. In its most recent Business Barometer® Index, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business reports Alberta’s business sentiment rose from 70.4 in October to 72.1 in November.
  • Employment revs back up

    Alberta’s job market continues to lead the country, according to the latest Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada. Rebounding from a slow month of job creation in October, Alberta roared back with a net new 10,600 jobs in November (seasonally adjusted).
  • Alberta's bees buzzing up better business

    It’s been a great year for agriculture in Alberta, particularly for grain and oilseed crops. But there is another agri-food product that is starting to show a sweet increase in value. Honey produced in Alberta topped $70 million for the first time. That’s more than double the amount that was produced in 2007 and more than 40 per cent of Canada’s total.
  • Exports up in October

    International exports from Alberta are showing some convincing signs of life after flat-lining for much of 2011 and 2012. Exports of both energy commodities and non-energy merchandise rose in October, bringing total international sales to $9.7 billion for the month. That’s a sharp increase of 13.6 per cent over the previous month.
  • Albertans paying more at the pump

    The price of gas is a common complaint amongst motorists in Alberta, who feel they’re constantly paying more to fill the tank. Gas prices rise and fall regularly, but the motorists have a point: in Alberta, the price of fuelling up is easily outpacing inflation.
  • Albertans spending even more on dining out

    Albertans set another record for spending in bars and restaurants. The bills topped out at $684 million in September (seasonally adjusted)—a $3 million jump up from August. Comparing the last twelve months over the previous twelve months, receipts are up by 6.0 per cent.
  • Economy shows unexpected growth

    The Canadian economy is picking up momentum after a slow start to 2013. According to the latest data from Statistics Canada, the economy expanded by 0.3 per cent in September compared to the previous month. That makes three consecutive months of reasonably strong growth, enough to lift growth in the third quarter of 2013 to 2.7 per cent.
  • Forestry providing economic diversity

    Alberta’s economy is getting a boost from a sometimes overlooked natural resource: forestry. This strong and stable sector is providing diversity to a provincial economy that is quite dependent on the price of oil and gas.
  • It's off to work we go!

    Employees in Alberta work longer hours than their counterparts across the country, according Statistics Canada’s latest report on Payroll Employment, Earnings and Hours.
  • Farm cash receipts on track for record year

    New data released this morning from Statistics Canada reveals just how well farmers in Alberta are doing this year. For the first three quarters of 2013, farm cash receipts totalled $9.1 billion, up 2.1 per cent from the same three quarters of 2012. Nationally, farmers are also doing well.
  • Alberta keeps its youthful glow

    According to a new report from Statistics Canada, Alberta is still the youngest among all the provinces. The median age in Alberta in 2013 is 36.0 years. Nationally, the median age is 40.2 years. The province with the oldest median age is Newfoundland and Labrador at 44.2.
  • Shop 'til you drop

    Shoppers in Alberta set another record high for retail sales in September, ringing up over $6.2 billion (seasonally adjusted) in purchases. That is a significant jump up from the previous month (+2.0 per cent). Over the last 12 months, total retail sales are up by 5.8 per cent from the previous 12 months.
  • Employment insurance recipients stable in Alberta

    New numbers released by Statistics Canada this morning are keeping the number of employment insurance recipients just about even in Alberta. Beneficiaries in September fell to 29,140. That is down fractionally (-1.1 per cent) from the previous month.
  • Wholesaler activity responding to how people shop

    Shifting trends in the Canadian retail sector are taking a toll on wholesale trade in Alberta. According to Statistics Canada, the value of wholesale shipments in the province was down marginally from August, to $6.52 billion in September. Despite the drop, the numbers are still on par with the average over the last year.
  • Job vacancies fall in Alberta

    Alberta has the highest rate of unfilled jobs in Canada, according to new numbers released by Statistics Canada. For every 100 employment positions in this province, almost 3 of them are waiting to be filled. The rate has fallen somewhat; a year ago, the job vacancy rate in Alberta was 3.2 per cent. Today it sits at 2.7 per cent.
  • Alberta's income gap widening

    Alberta is home to the highest average weekly earnings in the country. While many workers are easily finding good paying jobs, not all wages are created equally—and not everyone’s paycheque is growing at the same rate.
  • Refining output slumped in September

    Alberta manufacturers were heating up over the summer months—but a chill returned in the early fall. The value of manufacturing shipments in Alberta slipped to $6.29 billion in September (adjusted for seasonality). That was down about 3.6 per cent from August, a month which had approached a record high.
  • New home prices diverge in Alberta's largest cities

    Sports rivalries have people in Calgary and Edmonton trained to keep track of the score. New numbers released today by Statistics Canada are keeping that competitive spirit alive outside the arena as Calgary housing prices take the lead.
  • Female workers have the edge in Alberta

    Job seekers from across the country and around the world are coming to Alberta to find work. While opportunities abound in most sectors, women are having more success than men in the province’s labour market.
  • Alberta leads the charge in 2012

    Statistics Canada data is confirming what many of us already suspected: Alberta was the fastest growing provincial economy in 2012. The province gained this distinction with an impressive margin.
  • More workers enter Alberta's job market

    Alberta’s white-hot employment market is going through a minor shift this fall. More people are looking for work and the work that’s available is changing.
  • Pumped-up potato prices

    The thought of crop farming in Alberta conjures up images of bright yellow canola and golden wheat waving in the wind. One of the other important crops in the province is a bit further down on the picturesque scale. Despite their aesthetic shortcomings, potatoes are still a hot commodity.
  • Building permits inch higher

    Construction activity is an important driver of Alberta’s economy, and over the last few years it has remained remarkably steady. New information released by Statistics Canada suggests this trend will continue in 2014.
  • National recording industry changing its tune

    The Canadian sound and music recording industry contributes more than $100 billion in revenues to the national economy. That amount has been relatively stable over the last few years, but there are some interesting shifts taking place between the regions.
  • Alberta hotel room prices on the rise

    Be they visitors from away or tourists within their own province, travellers in Alberta are spending close to 50 per cent more on hotel rooms than they did a decade ago. Business and leisure travellers may expect to pay slightly different rates for their rooms depending on seasonal deals for vacationers or reduced corporate rates, but both have experienced similar price movements since 2003.
  • Business sentiment ebbs in October

    Amid a dip in oil prices and the political nastiness in the United States, Alberta enterprises were less enthusiastic in October than they were a month earlier.
  • Grab the tab

    When Albertans aren’t working or playing, we have a record-breaking appetite for dining out.
  • Alberta's egg production fails to take flight

    Alberta’s economy is sunny-side up these days, and in some areas workers are being poached. Home builders in the province are struggling to keep up with demand compared to their counterparts in the rest of the country. Alberta also continues to dominate beef production in Canada, but when it comes to chicken eggs, we’re a featherweight.
  • Lumber prices creeping higher

    There is no question that Alberta’s sawmills have benefitted from higher lumber prices over the last year. But what producers receive is only half of the equation: there’s also what industrial users have to pay. Construction companies and home builders are seeing some hefty increases in lumber costs on the Prairies.
  • Surf's up

    Despite the drawbacks of endless hours of surfing the Internet, including a rising rate of digital addiction, Canadians are using the technology in increasing numbers.
  • Medium-sized communities show growth

    More than half of Albertans live within its two major cities, and another 15 per cent live within the next tier of major communities such as Red Deer, Strathcona County and Lethbridge. Although lower in profile, Alberta’s medium-sized cities and towns—those with populations between 10,000 and 30,000—have been showing some respectable growth rates.
  • Employment insurance numbers stable in Alberta

    Statistics Canada says the number of Albertans receiving regular employment insurance benefits in August was up fractionally to 30,030. Nationally, the number of recipients rose to 511,900, also slightly higher than July, but still down 7.8 per cent from a year ago.
  • Pulp non-fiction

    After enduring a decade of price swings, Alberta’s pulp and paper producers have reason for renewed optimism. According to Statistics Canada, prices are up about 4.2 per cent since September of last year.
  • Shopping therapy

    Warm August days may be perfect for camping at the lake or the mountains, but many Albertans preferred to spend their free time at malls and car dealerships. According to Statistics Canada, consumer spending in this province remains near record highs.
  • Part-time vs. full-time work: How Alberta rates

    Nobody questions the health of Alberta’s job market, but a closer look at part-time work compared with the rest of the country reveals some interesting trends.
  • Consumer costs contained

    It may not always feel like it, but Alberta consumers continue to experience only very modest price increases, according to Statistics Canada.
  • Commercial building picks up steam

    While construction of new houses might be reaching some lofty levels this year, the value of non-residential building across Alberta is once again starting to show momentum. Commercial building activity for the third quarter of 2013 reached its highest level since the start of the 2009-10 recession, according to Statistics Canada.
  • Manufacturing shifts into higher gear

    Alberta’s manufacturers have struggled over the last two years, but that sluggishness may be finally lifting. Steady increases in the value of shipments over the summer are bringing renewed optimism.
  • Small businesses gear up to grow

    Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the heart and soul of Alberta’s economy. Companies with fewer than 500 employees account for 99.9 per cent of all incorporated businesses in the province—and the latest research from ATB Financial suggests they’re set to expand.
  • Alberta adds fewer jobs in September

    Alberta remains the engine of Canada’s job creation machine, but in September it shifted into a slightly lower gear.
  • New home prices rise in Calgary, slide in Edmonton

    Even if you prefer the Calgary Flames to the Edmonton Oilers, if you’re looking to buy a new home this fall, the provincial capital offers prices that are really something to cheer about.
  • Inflation pressures vary by household

    Costs for goods and services have barely moved in the past five years, according to Statistics Canada’s latest consumer price index reports, which pegs inflation in Alberta at just 4.3 per cent. But a closer examination within the basket of consumer purchases reveals interesting trends.
  • Exports slip in August

    International exports are the single most important driver of Alberta’s economy. And, while the trend over the past few years has been positive, exports took a step backward in August.
  • Building permits tumble

    The value of building permits issued by Alberta’s municipal governments is a good indicator of what we can expect in construction activity. And, late summer saw a fairly large pull back in builders’ intentions.
  • Alberta farmers reap bumper crops

    The warm September sunshine and the dry conditions gave Alberta farmers what they were praying for back in the spring—a crop year that will go down in the record books as one of the best.
  • U.S. government shutdown could hurt Alberta exporters

    The ongoing disruptions to federal government services in the United States could spell trouble for some of Alberta’s exporters.
  • Optimism rising for Alberta businesses

    Hard data on employment, GDP growth and investment can be good indicators about the direction of the economy. But sometimes the best way to gauge growth in the coming year is to ask a soft question: how are you feeling?
  • Eat your fruits and veggies, but at what cost?

    If you think prices for a can of peaches or that bag of frozen potatoes have increased, it’s not your imagination. Food processors and manufacturers in Canada are facing higher costs for raw materials and passing the hike on to consumers.
  • Albertans' favourite summer pastime?

    Golf, camping and fishing are the recreational pursuits of many Albertans each summer, but another activity is hitting some new record highs. Going out for a nice steak, a burger, a salad or a pint of beer has become a favourite pastime.
  • Workin' hard for the money

    The Owl examined median family income earlier this week and showed that Albertans earn considerably more than households elsewhere in Canada. But just how many hours are spent each week at work to bring home those big paycheques?
  • Alberta's other economic drivers

    As Alberta Culture Days kicks off tomorrow, it’s important to remember that artistic and cultural events are not only a lot of fun—they’re big business, too.
  • Standing out: Alberta household income

    It’s not uncommon for Alberta to be an outlier compared with other provinces, particularly related to economic performance. Household income is one area where it stands out most vividly.
  • Shoppers show confidence in July

    Various indicators provide insights into the overall health of the economy, but few do as good a job of revealing consumer sentiment as retail sales. And, new data shows that Albertans are speaking loudly—and confidently—with their wallets.
  • Canola prices slumping

    Crop farmers in Alberta have enjoyed some incredibly favourable prices over the past few years. But a general rule of physics still applies: What goes up must come down. And, downward is where crop prices headed by late summer.
  • Alberta inflation tumbles in August

    It’s natural for consumers to feel that prices keep rising faster than their paycheques. But according to the latest inflation numbers, consumers are shelling out only a small amount more than they were a year ago.
  • Fewer Albertans collecting E.I.

    The monthly labour force survey from Statistics Canada isn’t the only indicator of the job market. Data on the number of people collecting federal employment insurance benefits helps paint a more complete picture of labour conditions. This morning, the E.I. report suggests Alberta’s labour market is healthy and stable.
  • Job vacancies vary across sectors

    Alberta’s low unemployment rate has made it easier for most job seekers to find work. However, the difficulty of your job search will vary by the sector in which you’re looking.
  • Manufacturing rises in July

    Refineries and manufacturing shop floors in Alberta have been a bit sluggish in 2013, but in July they managed to pick up the pace a bit.
  • Personal bankruptcy falls in June

    Statistics Canada reported last week that average household debt in Canada ticked higher again in the most recent quarter, reaching a new record high. But while many individuals may find themselves in some debt trouble, most Albertans appear to be managing just fine—at least for now.
  • Go west young man (and woman)

    Canada’s job market has been fairly soft in 2013—the national unemployment rate still hovers above 7 per cent. It’s even more difficult for young people, where unemployment is nearly double at 14.1 per cent. But as is the case with most job seekers, young people may want to consider a move to Alberta.
  • Tuition fee freeze

    Post-secondary education may be one of the best financial investments a person can make. But a typical four-year undergraduate degree from a university is not only a lot of hard work, it’s also costly. Compared to elsewhere in the country, students in Alberta may be getting a relatively good deal.
  • Chemical imbalance

    A good deal of Alberta’s manufacturing is related to inputs into the energy sector, such as steel pipe and specialized equipment. But a sizable portion of manufacturing is also related to outputs from the energy sector—organic and inorganic chemicals.
  • (Fewer) pretty pink houses for you and me

    Autumn leaves were not the only thing that started to drop last month. According to the latest statistics, the number of homes being built in Alberta fell to an 18-month low.
  • A lot of swinging hammers

    While building sites can often be noisy and messy to look at, there’s no denying the positive contribution that construction activity has on Alberta’s economy. Judging by the most recent statistics on building permits, it appears that our province can anticipate strong construction activity in the coming months.
  • It's off to work we go!

    Alberta’s job market showed that it remains the employment juggernaut of the country as the summer months came to a close.
  • This little piggy went to market

    Livestock farming in Alberta tends to be dominated by images of cattle ranchers and beef production. But hog farming is another important driver in our agricultural sector—and while its farmers have seen better days, prices in the summer have offered a bit of relief.
  • Oil sends sales soaring

    As far as Canadian provinces go, Alberta is one of the most dependent on selling its exports to the rest of the world. While overall exports have struggled over the last year, they took a strong turn for the better in July.
  • Forest Bump

    One of Alberta’s most important natural resource sectors is forestry. After having enjoyed some steady growth over the last several quarters, forest products in Alberta hit a small bump in the road this spring.
  • Independent business feeling the joy

    Some good economic news is the right way to head into the last long weekend of the summer. And fortunately, that good news is coming from the latest survey of business sentiment in Alberta.
  • Paying more at the pump

    Motorists fuelling up for the long weekend aren’t the only ones seeing rising prices. Canadian oil refineries—the ones that produce our gasoline—are also seeing its input costs rise. Those higher costs, of course, are then passed on to consumers.
  • Weekly earnings still outpacing inflation

    With rising prices for gasoline and electricity, it’s easy to feel like you’re falling behind. However, according to data released this morning, most employees in Alberta are more than keeping their financial heads above water—at least on average.
  • Shiver me timbers

    Often thought of as the third largest sector in Alberta, the forestry industry is seeing some better days in 2013. That said, prices have been on a roller coaster this summer.
  • Job openings vary

    As many economic indicators in Alberta suggest, the job market in this province is still in extremely healthy shape. But when it comes to looking for a job, not all opportunities are created equally. In fact, job openings vary by the kind of work you do.
  • Inflation slows (a bit) in Alberta

    No one likes having to shell out more for their purchases. Shoppers in Alberta may have noticed some better deals in July—but barely.
  • Shoppers flooded out

    Albertans kicked off their summer by hitting the malls and car dealerships in May. But when the rains fell and the rivers rose, it forced a few of those shoppers to lighten up on their spending.
  • We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves

    According to information released this morning from Statistics Canada, one specific group of people in our province is going to be busy come harvest time.
  • Wholesale trade flat-lining in June

    Alberta shoppers have been out in full force in recent months. But while this consumer euphoria has sent retail sales to record highs, it has yet to trickle down into much of a lift for wholesalers.
  • Tourism happens around the province

    Looking around Alberta during the summer, the thousands of out-of-province licence plates remind us of the importance of tourism to our economy. Indeed, considering the many separate industries that benefit from tourism, it can be considered the fourth largest industry in Alberta—behind energy, agriculture and forestry.
  • Temporarily available

    Alberta’s booming economy comes with many benefits, but it presents challenges as well. One of those challenges is that jobs are going unfilled. In some cases the volume of interprovincial migrants from other parts of Canada has not been able to keep up with labour demand. As a result, Alberta has attracted more foreign temporary workers than any other province.
  • Calgary's housing market heats up

    As one of the fastest growing urban areas in North America, Calgary also has one of the hottest real estate markets. Prices for both new and existing homes are on the rise again. And judging from some other measurements of real estate activity, the market could be tilting further in favour of the seller.
  • Battle of the manufacturing titans

    When people think of Canada’s manufacturing sector, it’s often the industrial heartland of southern Ontario that comes to mind. However, proportional to its population, Alberta’s manufacturing industry is only slightly smaller. The composition of what’s being manufactured in each province, however, is very different.
  • Who's farming what?

    Profitable farming in Alberta has turned decidedly towards grains and oilseeds in the last few years, mostly because of good prices. However, when it comes to the number of business operators in agriculture, one type of farm is still king.
  • Weather cool, but job market hot

    Alberta may be experiencing a cold, damp summer—but its jobs market is anything but.
  • New house prices: Record highs in Calgary

    Consumer price inflation for most goods and services in Alberta has been low lately. However, that’s not to say every item we purchase hasn’t seen price movement. One of the biggest items we will ever purchase has started to rise in price—particularly in one major Alberta city.
  • If you build it… they will come (to check your permits)

    Despite rumours to the contrary, economists have no crystal ball with which to gaze into the future. Nonetheless, certain monthly economic indicators do provide some useful guidance about what’s coming down the pipe—and one of the best is the value of building permits issued by municipalities.
  • Exports fall in June

    Selling products to the world is the backbone of Alberta’s economy. But for a variety of factors, exporters have been struggling to gain any ground—and new data released this morning shows that they appear to be sliding backwards.
  • From saxophones to softballs

    This Heritage Day long weekend, many of us will be enjoying some of Alberta’s fantastic cultural events. Not only are these events a lot of fun, they’re also an important economic driver.
  • Are retail wages keeping pace?

    Big paycheques are one of the main reasons why people from around the country—and indeed around the world—are flooding to Alberta. But not all of those paycheques pad the wallet equally.
  • And the beat goes on

    There’s been a lot of uncertainly lately about the health of the Canadian economy. Data released this morning suggest that while things could be better, they could also be much worse.
  • Staying out of mischief

    It sometimes seems that crime is everywhere. You don’t have to look too hard to find a story or hear a report about a break-and-enter, a robbery or vandalism. But according to the most recent statistics, property crime rates have been falling steadily over the last decade.
  • London (not) calling

    With last week’s arrival of little Prince George, some of us might be feeling a wee bit more British than usual. After all, the tiny tot will one day be the King of Canada! But even as the newest royal rascal captivates some Albertans, our economic ties with jolly old England and the rest of the United Kingdom are surprisingly weak.
  • Population outpaces home building

    Housing construction is an important driver of Alberta’s economy and supplying the correct number of homes to match the market demand is sometimes a challenge for home builders. However, the most recent data suggest there’s still plenty of room to build a few more.
  • Are earnings keeping up with inflation?

    Alberta’s high wages have been one of the strongest drawing cards for many migrants moving to our province—and without question, average weekly earnings are far higher here, than elsewhere in the country. Yet have those wages kept pace with the rising cost of consumer goods and services over time?
  • A deluxe apartment in the sky!

    When Albertans think of new housing construction, many automatically think of the typical single detached bungalow which has become so popular. But that’s not the only type of residential construction going on. Apartment buildings—both for rental and condominiums—are increasingly popular, especially in Edmonton and Calgary.
  • Shopping hits new record

    Judging by some indicators such as manufacturing and construction, Alberta’s economy has moderated to a slower rate of growth in 2013. But at least one major indicator refuses to show any signs of slowing down—and it happens to be one of Albertans’ favourite activities.
  • Now hiring!

    There are several major indicators of job market conditions, including the monthly Labour Force Survey and the Employment Insurance report. Another indicator gives some important information from the employers’ side: how many jobs are currently unfilled? Here, Alberta comes in near the top of the heap.
  • Prices rise in June

    Shoppers in Alberta may have found themselves digging a bit deeper into their pockets in recent months. While it is still low by historic standards, inflation has ticked higher.
  • E.I. benefits vary by age

    Through the federal Employment Insurance (E.I.) program, most workers in Canada are eligible for a certain number of weeks of E.I. benefits when they lose their jobs. The rate of E.I. collection has fallen dramatically in Alberta over the past four years, but the rate at which it has fallen varies by the age of the worker.
  • Construction keeps pace

    Bulldozers, backhoes and building sites are familiar scenes to most Albertans, and they seem to be here to stay. Between April and June of this year, construction activity around the province kept up a solid pace.
  • Some costly mouths to feed

    Farm cash receipts are hitting record highs in Alberta, but not all farmers are enjoying the good times. In fact, while strong prices for grains and oilseeds are a windfall for some farmers, they’re a hit to the bottom line for others.
  • It's convenient, but...

    With a growing population and a strong economy, Alberta is seeing some impressive retail sales in 2013. But at least one type of retail operation in our province is seeing sales on a long-term downward trend.
  • Population growth... the natural way

    Among the provinces, Alberta has the fastest growing population. The strong economy continues to attract thousands of people from other provinces and countries. But there is a type of population growth that is also driving our province’s rapid expansion—and this requires no one to pack up and move.
  • Full-time vs. part-time work

    All people may be created equally—but jobs certainly are not. There’s a big difference between full and part-time jobs, especially in terms of how much each pays. And for workers seeking full-time employment, Alberta is the place to be.
  • Home builders busy

    The inflow of inter-provincial migration into Alberta is having a positive effect on much of the economy. One of the most noticeable has been on the increased demand for new housing—and builders are busy keeping up.
  • The second most wonderful time of the year?

    Summer is traditionally a time to take a break, relax and get outdoors—and given how short summer is in our province—it’s not surprising that most Albertans intend to get away.
  • Permission granted!

    Construction activity has been one of the stronger sectors in Alberta in 2013, and new data released today suggests that it will remain that way in the second half of the year.
  • Not too hot, not too cold

    One of the most highly anticipated reports each month is the Labour Force Survey. Today’s report suggests Alberta is the Goldilocks of job markets: not too hot, and not too cold.
  • Always look on the bright side of life (and the economy)

    Economists always have lots to fret about. Anxiety over Europe, the slowdown in China and the printing of money in the United States can cause nasty worry lines. But in spite of it all, Alberta’s small and medium-sized companies are still the most optimistic in the country.
  • Exports stuck in neutral

    A trading nation like Canada depends on sales of its merchandise abroad. And Alberta—which accounts for more than a fifth of all Canadian exports—is especially vulnerable to falling global demand. The latest trade data released this morning show the province is in a bit of a holding pattern.
  • Wining and dining

    The Canada Day long weekend is a great time to relax and reflect on our great country. And in addition to fireworks and flag waving, a lot of Albertans probably engaged in another one of their favourite activities: eating and drinking in restaurants.
  • Slow start to Q2

    That’s it, folks—we’re officially at the halfway point of 2013!  And at this point in time, Canadians wake up to news that the national economy had a sluggish start to the second quarter.
  • It's off to work we go

    Employees in this province are known to be hard workers. Not only do Albertans participate in the labour market in greater proportions, they tend to work more hours per week than employees elsewhere. But on the measure of weekly hours of work, one other province now takes top spot.
  • The swoon of the loon

    Just in time for thousands of Canadians’ vacation travel to the U.S. this summer, the loonie takes a big nose-dive! What’s behind the Canadian dollar’s recent weakness and what lies ahead in the second half of 2013?
  • King of the crops

    Driving around rural Alberta this summer, you’ll see plenty of lush crops swaying in the wind. Farmers grow a variety of grains, oilseeds and pulses, but in terms of the overall area seeded, one specific grain in our province is still king.
  • Paycheques inch higher for construction workers

    Alberta’s strong economy has created some shortages of skilled labour, and as companies scramble to hire workers, wages have been rising steadily. Unionized construction tradespeople have seen their wages rise, too—although the rate of increase may surprise you.
  • Consumers open their wallets

    They’re back at it again! After a short break in March, Albertans were out in full force in April, ringing up enough sales at the cash register to match the recently-set record high. Strong job growth, rising incomes and robust consumer confidence have left Alberta shoppers willing to shell out the bucks
  • More Albertans by the minute

    That whooshing sound you’re hearing around the province these days may be more than the passing summer winds. It may be the sound of cars, buses and airplanes carrying migrants to Alberta. Judging by the most recent numbers, our province continues to be a destination of choice.
  • Producers choo-choo-choosing rail

    While various energy pipeline proposals are being hotly debated, Alberta’s oil has been quietly but steadily finding its way to markets through another mode of transportation.
  • Wood working!

    It’s been a long, tough slog for Alberta’s forest product producers, but finally things have turned around. Judging by the first three months of 2013,this year could be one of the best they’ve seen in awhile.
  • Working...but not enough

    The monthly labour force survey reports data on employment in both full-time and part-time jobs. Some workers prefer part-time jobs—especially students or stay-at-home care givers.
  • Manufacturing slips in April

    When one thinks about Alberta’s economy, it’s natural resources and agriculture that tend to steal the show. But smashing the stereotype is manufacturing, which accounts for a significant piece of our economic pie. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been contributing much to growth in recent months.
  • Canada's oil and gas sector on the go

    So, just how busy are Canada’s energy producers? The industrial capacity utilization rate measures the amount of slack in the economy—the closer the rate is to 100 per cent, the less slack and the closer the sector is to running at full capacity.
  • Bitumen bubble causing less trouble

    With so much of Alberta’s economy dependent on the energy sector, it’s no surprise that oil prices have an enormous impact on the province. The price that’s quoted on the evening news and in the newspapers is an important benchmark—but it’s not quite the price that Alberta producers receive.
  • It's not easy being small

    Small and medium-sized enterprises—those businesses with fewer than 500 employees—account for 99.9 per cent of Alberta’s businesses. They are the lifeblood of many towns and communities. But being small comes with its challenges, especially when it comes to finding and attracting workers.
  • Housing starts hit five-year high

    While softer energy prices may be moderating overall economic growth this year, it appears that homebuilders didn’t receive the memo. Judging by the most recent statistics, its boom time in Alberta!
  • Jobs report brings mixed messages

    Alberta’s labour market continued to impress in May. But peeling back the numbers a bit reveals some interesting trends—some good, and some not so good.
  • May lumber prices plunge

    One of the best performing sectors in Alberta’s economy in 2013 is expected to be forestry. Strong demand for lumber and other manufactured wood products have been sending prices higher—that is, until May.
  • Building permits lower in April

    Economists love trying to peer into the future. Sadly most indicators are lagging indicators, describing activity in the past. One of the few good leading indicators—building permits—allows a peek into the future for at least one industry: construction.
  • Exports levelling off

    Alberta’s economy is still expanding in 2013, but at a slower rate than in the previous two years. One reason why growth has moderated is sluggish exports.
  • Prairies lowest in personal bankruptcy

    Albertans like to shop. And a lot of their spending happens with borrowed money. But the most recent data on consumer bankruptcies suggests that most households are managing their debt reasonably well.
  • Canada's economic thaw

    With spring slowly morphing into summer in Canada, it appears the temperature is not the only thing on the rise. Canada’s economy is slowly crawling out of last year’s winter chill.
  • Get your motor running, head out on the highway

    Spending on big-ticket items is a great indicator of general consumer confidence and one of the most expensive items consumers will purchase is a vehicle. Like several other statistical measures in 2013, spending at the car and truck lots is pointing to continued strength in Alberta’s economy.
  • Alberta the place to be for wages

    On a broad range of economic indicators, our province is often the statistical outlier among the provinces. New information on the size of workers’ paycheques is keeping with this trend.
  • China surpasses Japan in visits to western Canada

    Tourism is big business for Canada, especially in the summer months. With the flat-lining of American visitors in recent years, Alberta tourism operators have been trying to attract business and leisure travellers from other countries—especially Asian ones. The trends have been interesting.
  • Alberta jobs go unfilled

    With Alberta’s job market as strong as it is, there is plenty of work to be had. But if you are looking for work—or perhaps considering a move to Alberta to find a job—the opportunities vary by industry.
  • Crop receipts smash record

    As the summer farming season ramps up for 2013, there
    may be a few more smiling faces across the province. Farm
    cash receipts are set to smash new records this year.
  • Fewer collecting E.I. in March

    For most Albertans in the work force, finding steady, good-paying work has been relatively easy. The occasional loss of a job can result in a disruption to one’s regular income, but that’s becoming increasingly rare in the province.
  • Shoppers pause in March

    Retail spending activity is one of the best gauges of how the economy is performing. Shoppers in Alberta may have cooled their heels a bit lately, but the overall trend is still showing healthy levels of consumer optimism.
  • Illinois Avenue

    Alberta’s trade with the big Asian economies of China and India have attracted plenty of attention and the potential for growth to these regions is enormous. However, more than a quarter of our international exports goes to one specific region of the world—and that region is less than a quarter of the geographic size of Alberta.
  • Inflation still well below target

    There’s plenty of troubling economic news around if you want to find it. But one thing that most consumers are not worrying about too much lately is inflation—that is, at least not in April.
  • A hotel, motel, Holiday Inn

    As summer vacation approaches, many of us may be planning an out-of-province vacation that involves an overnight stay in a hotel or motel. But visitors to Alberta this summer may experience some sticker shock when they get their hotel bill—especially for one specific kind of traveller.
  • Food, glorious food

    Petroleum refining and the production of materials used in the energy sector contribute significantly to the value of Alberta’s manufacturing sector. But food production is also big business in our province and after hitting a big pothole last year—food manufacturing has rebounded nicely.
  • Youth participation rates

    Albertans are hard working—work is, after all, the primary reason why most interprovincial migrants move to our province. But when it comes to participating in the work force, Alberta’s young people are much more in line with their Canadian peers than their parents are.
  • With a moo-moo here and an oink-oink there

    That mooing and oinking heard across the province is the sound of money to Alberta’s cattle and hog farmers. While cattle prices have been fairly steady over the past several months, cattle and hogs mooo-ved in different directions in March.
  • Jobless rate falls in April

    For economists, the monthly Labour Force Survey is a highly anticipated report. Today’s report should put some smiles on the faces of those tracking Alberta’s job market.
  • Challenges for Alberta's small business owners

    Small and medium sized enterprises are truly the lifeblood of entrepreneurialism in Alberta. Indeed, over 98 per cent of businesses in the province have fewer than 50 people. But even in Alberta’s healthy business environment, there are challenges for the little guys.
  • New homes keep sprouting up

    Yesterday’s Daily Economic Comment reported results from an ATB Financial survey suggesting the most significant reason why Albertans buy homes is for relocation. Often those homebuyers are relocating for the job opportunities in our province. Supporting that notion is today’s data, which reveals residential construction activity is still rolling along.
  • Why we buy homes

    Whether it’s the longer days, the warmer evenings, or the arrival of tax refunds, by far the busiest time of year for homebuyers is late spring. In a typical year, almost three times as many homes will pass hands in May and June than during the early winter. So, what are the main reasons Albertans hunt for a home?
  • Building permits defy expectations

    After plenty of warnings of economic slowdowns, it appears that Alberta’s construction companies are still planning a very busy year in 2013.
  • Alberta bankruptcies

    Recent statistics on retail activity and restaurant receipts suggest that Albertans have a high degree of consumer confidence—in other words: we like to spend! And many of those purchases are made with borrowed money. But according to the latest numbers of insolvency, most households appear to have their debt situation under control.
  • Exports climb higher

    As a trading nation, Canada depends on a healthy level of international exports to fuel its economy. Alberta is no different. Fortunately, the value of the province’s sales abroad has been gradually rising.
  • Restaurants and bars hit new record

    Economic slowdown or not, setting new records in Alberta is becoming a regular event. New statistics show that restaurants and bars in the province are busier than ever. But what do the numbers really say?
  • Canada's economy: Down but not out

    Due to a variety of factors, the Canadian economy had recently been showing signs of slowing. Most forecasters, including the Bank of Canada, had reduced their forecast for Canada earlier this year. But new data shows there may be a bit more gasoline left in the tank.
  • Got milk?

    Agriculture in Alberta spans dozens of different industries and commodities. Although dominated by beef, wheat and canola, there are all sorts of other farm products that contribute to the overall economy. Dairy farmers are part of that diversity—even if they account for only a fraction of national production.
  • Alberta (re)bound?

    Our neighbour Saskatchewan may surpass Alberta this year as the fastest growing provincial economy. And for several quarters in a row, we seemed to be losing people to the good job opportunities there. But this trend may now be reversing, with the flow of migrants once again shifting in favour of wild rose country.
  • Albertans still like their brewskies

    Be it during the hockey game or sitting in the lodge après-ski, many Albertans enjoy kicking back with a nice cold beer. And the latest data points out that our beer consumption differs from the rest of the country.
  • Small business optimism

    Business pages in the newspaper tend to be dominated by stories of the giant corporate players. And while it’s true that big business is important for Alberta’s overall economy, it’s the smaller players that are the life-blood of much of our province. Over 98 per cent of companies in the province have fewer than 50 employees. But even though they’re small, they’re thinking big!
  • Cranes on the horizon

    Construction cranes have become a regular feature on the Alberta landscape. If anyone is waiting for the pace of construction activity to slow down, they may have to wait awhile longer.
  • The bread basket of the world

    Alberta farmers produce some of the best wheat in the world. And while Saskatchewan beats us slightly in terms of total production, Alberta contributes significantly to Canada’s export of wheat to the rest of the world.
  • Inflation posing no threats

    With some central banks around the world busy printing money, some observers have been fearful of global inflation. But in Canada, inflation remains well below any sort of danger level —at least for now.
  • Fewer benefit claims in Alberta

    In Canada, an unemployed worker has the chance to apply for employment insurance benefits. Recent changes by the federal government to tighten eligibility are unpopular in some parts of the country. But in Alberta, fewer workers are making claims.
  • (Less) help wanted

    Labour market statistics tend to focus on the supply of labour, such as how many people are working or the not. But employers are the other half of the picture—and the number of current job postings help paint a more complete image of the labour market.
  • Manufacturing picks up

    Manufacturing activity in Alberta tends to move hand-in-hand with the oil and gas sector, since so much of the province’s industrial output is related in one way or another to energy extraction or refining. But if there is some slowdown in oil and gas, manufacturers haven’t been notified.
  • Building boom going rural?

    Construction activity is an important driver of Alberta’s economy and one of the best forward-looking indicators of future activity is the issuance of building permits.
  • The cost of a warm house

    A few days ago, the Daily Economic Comment explored the rising price of natural gas on North American commodity markets. But the price that gas producers receive for their product doesn’t always move in tandem with what end-users pay for heating their homes.
  • From Fort McMurray to Medicine Hat: Rental costs across our province

    A common option for many Albertans—especially ones who have recently moved to the province—is to rent their accommodation. But the cost of renting an apartment varies widely depending on the community.
  • Natural gas prices—going up?

    While observers of Alberta’s economy have been captivated by the widening (and now narrowing) price differential of crude oil, the price for that other hydrocarbon has been quietly staging a comeback.
  • Housing starts continue to show balance

    Concern over the Canadian housing market has been a major preoccupation with economists and politicians alike. But in Alberta, reasons for pessimism seem unfounded—at least judging by the latest statistics.
  • Alberta's high quality jobs

    Last Friday, Statistics Canada reported that employment across the country fell by 55,000 in March—one of the worst jobs reports in a long while. Alberta was no exception, shedding more than 11,000 positions. Still, the strength of the provincial job market shows through in the quality of the jobs that remain.
  • Dressed for success

    Whether they’re in cowboy boots and jeans or stylish haute couture, shoppers in our province have been paying big bucks to satisfy their clothing desires. In 2012, sales by clothing, footwear and accessories retailers totalled $4.03 billion, up 8.4 per cent from sales in 2011.
  • Paying the rent

    For many Albertans renting an apartment or house is the primary shelter cost they pay each month. And while it seems like rents keep getting pushed up, the rising cost has not been out of line with general inflation.
  • Behind the shelves

    Alberta shoppers are generally familiar with the role retailers play in the economy—at the mall, for example, or in the grocery store. But long before any of the merchandise makes its way onto store shelves, the wholesaler’s role plays out behind the scenes.
  • Construction worker wages

    While some construction costs are currently rising, other costs for home or office builders are holding steady. That is particularly true of unionized construction worker wages in both Calgary and Edmonton.
  • Peachy keen

    Forget wheat, barley and canola. The new farm cash crops in Alberta are of the fruity variety—and they are boosting farm cash receipts to new heights in 2013.
  • Millions of peeping feathered friends

    The little yellow chick is an icon of the season even though it’s often in the shadow of the brasher, brawnier Easter Bunny. And while there will be lots of candy chicks devoured this weekend, the number of real, live chicks is holding steady in Alberta.
  • Who’s picking up the tab?

    Thirsty? Unless you’re satisfied with a soft drink or a glass of water, you’d better head for Montreal—because if you’re in Edmonton you may experience some sticker shock.
  • Give peas a chance

    When there’s news on emerging Asian economies, China tends to steal most of the headlines. However, India may well surpass China in the future as the world’s second largest economy—and Alberta exporters may find that very lucrative.
  • Energy patch optimism

    With so much talk of the lower prices for Alberta’s bitumen and heavier oil, one could assume investment in the energy patch was expected to plummet this year. But according to a recent survey, spending by Alberta’s oil and gas producers and service providers on capital equipment could hit a new record high—but just barely.
  • Alberta's population growth is best in the west

    It’s been a trend for decades now and last year the number of people sprinting west became a full-scale stampede. While population growth among the ten provinces varies, the fastest growing region is decidedly the Prairies—with Alberta well in the lead.
  • Shoppers back at it

    Despite the barrage of negative news around resources prices that punctuated news headlines at the beginning of the year, Alberta consumers seemed to have brushed off any sense of economic doom. They opened their wallets and purses, returning to one of their favourite pastimes: shopping.
  • How accommodating!

    Thousands of hotel and motel operators around our province play an important role within Alberta’s tourism industry. And at first glance, the accommodation sector seems to provide economic diversity, but look closely and you may be surprised at what drives a good deal of it.
  • Manufacturing bounces back

    If Alberta’s economy is showing some signs of slowdown, the pace of manufacturing activity is one of the reasons why. Factory floors and refineries struggled a bit in late 2012. However, according to new data this morning from Statistics Canada, 2013 got off to a great start.
  • Alberta and B.C. tug-of-war

    Canada’s two westernmost provinces have shared a lot over the years: history, economy and people. One could say the movement of people between Alberta and British Columbia has ebbed and flowed like the ocean’s tide. Over the last four decades, net migration patterns have been driven largely by the strength of not only job markets but also by ageing demographics.
  • New home prices (mostly) track inflation

    One of the most expensive items anyone will ever purchase is their home. Compared to the prices for other goods and services Albertans purchase, new home prices have more than kept pace. But it’s worth taking a look back at price trends over the past twenty years to spot a surprising pattern.
  • Energy producers no slackers

    So, just how busy are Canada’s industrial producers? The industrial capacity utilization rate measures the amount of slack in the economy—the closer the rate is to 100 per cent, the less slack and the closer the economy is to running at full capacity. There was a bit more spare capacity overall last quarter—but not for energy producers.
  • Personal bankruptcies at five-year low

    With many of Alberta’s economic indicators showing some slowdown over the past several months, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see more households with strained debt levels. However, according to the number of personal bankruptcies filed at the end of last year, consumers appear to have things under control.
  • Cattle count moooooves higher

    The latest census of agriculture shows that on January 1, there were some 5.01 million head of cattle in Alberta. That’s about a million more than the 3.9 million people that call this place home. Perhaps because of its world renown reputation for excellent beef, Alberta is by far the largest producer in Canada.
  • Home building in balance

    There are many words used to describe the Canadian housing sector at the moment, including “bubble,” “overheated” and “dangerous.” Most of those worrisome terms are in reference to residential markets in Toronto and Vancouver. But here in Alberta, the best word to describe the housing market is: balanced.
  • Alberta adds jobs in February and decreases gender gap

    While economic growth has slowed a bit in Alberta, it doesn’t seem to be making a big impact within the labour market just yet. In February, the province added another 4,200 jobs, following a gain of 9,700 in January.
  • Seeing the forest for the trees

    It’s not just beef, bitumen and buildings in Alberta—the forestry sector is the lifeblood of several communities in the northern and western regions of our province. And after rumours of its death proved to be greatly exaggerated, the forestry sector in Alberta has come roaring back.
  • Bubble, bubble: oil. But trouble?

    Softer prices for Alberta’s oil may be causing a headache for the provincial government, but the business community seems to be brushing those worries aside. Perhaps the sky is not falling after all.
  • Fries or salad with that?

    Some of the most recent economic indicators are suggesting that Alberta’s economy is moderating a bit. But if that slower pace of growth is real, someone forgot to inform restaurant and bar-goers in the province. At the end of the year, total spending hit a record high.
  • Canada’s economy tumbles in December

    Economic growth in Canada was already on an established downward trend in 2012, but by the final month of the year the overall GDP slipped into contraction.
  • Employment's big picture

    Albertans are often thought of as possessing a strong entrepreneurial spirit. And while thousands of independent entrepreneurs and capitalists thrive in the province, the reality is the majority of those in the labour market are actually employed by large companies or public enterprises.
  • Just what are your intentions?

    Once a year, Statistics Canada prepares a comprehensive survey of private and public sector investment intentions, including spending on construction and purchases of machinery and equipment (including repairs). This survey was conducted between October 2012 and late January 2013.
  • (Not so) average weekly earnings!

    This morning, Statistics Canada reported that average employee earnings in Alberta topped $1,093 per week in December of last year—essentially matching the record high set in October. That beat the national figure of $908 per week by about 20 per cent. The figures are all adjusted for seasonality.
  • Electricity prices falling

    Last Friday, Statistics Canada released its latest report on consumer price inflation. In Alberta, overall prices were actually 0.5 per cent lower in January than they were a year ago. One of the most significant reasons for this deflation is the falling price of electricity in the province.
  • Christmas shopping less jolly

    Maybe it was the hockey lockout, or maybe just the cold weather. Whatever the reason, Albertans seemed to be in little mood last December for one of their favourite pastimes: shopping.
  • E.I. benefits tick higher

    In addition to the monthly jobs report that measures the number of people working, another report from Statistics Canada provides more information on what’s going on in the labour market. The Employment Insurance report indicates how many people are out of work and collecting benefits.
  • Shiny office towers

    According to the latest 2013 forecast from Avison Young, a commercial real estate services company, Calgary will have the lowest office vacancy rate in Canada this year. Despite all of the building of new office towers over the past few years, the city’s economic growth will push office vacancy rates down to 3.7 per cent by year’s end.
  • Albertans giving back

    The charitable and not-for-profit sector plays an important role in providing social services and filling other gaps that government or the private sector may find difficult. Donations to charities in Alberta are much higher than the Canadian average. But even among communities throughout the province, the level of charitable giving varies.
  • Economically Speaking: Who's afraid of slow?

    The story of what's yet to come in 2013 will be one of a softer economy, prompted by lower resource prices. There's certain to be a lot of moaning and groaning about this, especially if layoffs pick up. But here are 10 reasons why a slowdown in Alberta isn't such a bad thing.
  • Oilsands boost U.S. manufacturing

    It’s easy to recite the economic benefit of the Keystone XL pipeline that the United States would enjoy: construction jobs and tax revenues. But that is simply the economic good that would happen south of the 49th parallel. There’s also the vast amount of economic activity generated north of the border that already accrues to American-based manufacturers.
  • Turning Japanese

    Alberta’s economy is extremely dependent on trade, and particularly on energy commodities exported to the United States. Those export levels have been falling lately, which has created some distinct challenges for the provincial economy. Fortunately, Alberta sellers have been finding growth in a few other global markets. Japan is one of them.
  • Housing's delicate balance

    Last Friday, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. released new data on housing construction across the country. In Alberta, the monthly number was a bit disappointing. However, a longer-term vantage point can offer a more encouraging perspective.
  • Hey, kid, get a job!

    It’s a catch-22 for young people: you can’t get a job without work experience, and you can’t get work experience without a job. Unemployment rates for youth have traditionally been higher than those for older workers, but in Alberta, at least, the situation is improving.
  • Alberta adds jobs in January

    The Alberta job market rebounded with new positions in January. Even better, almost all of these were in full-time positions.
  • Edmonton and Calgary left in the dust?

    Commercial building projects in Alberta have traditionally been dominated by the shiny skyscrapers or the massive shopping centres in Edmonton and Calgary. And indeed, the rate of building permits issued for these projects has been brisk. But permits for commercial projects in the rest of Alberta have been quietly and steadily gaining ground on the big cities.
  • Prepare for take-off

    Usually when we think of air traffic in Alberta, we think of the big international airports like those in Edmonton and Calgary. We may even think of the airport in Fort McMurray which is now the third-busiest in the province. However, dotted throughout Alberta are smaller regional airports, and they also play an important role in the economy.
  • Oilseed prices off to a good start in 2013

    Often when people think of agriculture in Alberta, they think of herds of cattle or fields of wheat. But, increasingly, one of Alberta’s most common commodities is neither livestock nor grain—it’s oilseed. The brilliant yellow fields of canola have the distinct smell of money about them in 2013.
  • Government cats not so fat

    Alberta’s public sector employees can earn a hefty paycheque, particularly for the most highly educated and skilled. But on closer examination, government workers in this province may not be the fattest of cats after all.
  • Alberta solidly ahead in earnings

    The sources of competition between the provinces range from hockey scores of local teams to the local weather conditions. But in at least one indicator, Alberta leaves the rest of its provincial siblings in the dust: average weekly earnings.
  • Some good news on growth

    And now for something a little different: Statistics Canada released data today showing the economy was expanding at a quicker rate than many had expected. This contrasts with yesterday’s report from south of the border that the U.S. economy actually contracted in the final quarter of 2012.
  • Behind the Bank's change of tune

    Last week, the Bank of Canada stated it is no longer looking at raising interest rates any time soon. That’s because Canadian households now seem to be taking on debt at a slower pace and inflation remains tame. But the central bank’s outlook shift is also due to a more negative view of Canadian economic growth. And that’s what makes it so noteworthy.
  • The rich get richer

    New data released yesterday by Statistics Canada for the 2010 tax year show the income gap is far from closing. Since 1982, income distribution has become less equal.
  • Software prices stable

    Last week, Statistics Canada reported on one of the most important sources of inflation data—the Consumer Price Index. But consumers are not the only ones who face inflation: businesses can face rising costs, too. The purchase of commercial software is one such cost, but prices here have been mostly stable.
  • Economically Speaking: Ask the Economist!

    What if the world’s economic movers and shakers sent me letters to seek advice, sort of in the style of the old Betty and Veronica advice columns on fashion, dating and social etiquette? This week the mail bag might contain some beauties like these.
  • Knock on wood!

    It’s typically associated with British Columbia, but the forestry sector is the lifeblood of many Alberta communities, especially in the northern and western parts of the province. Wood manufacturing has had a rough go of it over the last several years, but things are finally making a distinct turnaround.
  • Railways to the rescue?

    Increasingly, oil producers are turning to rail. Rail transport makes sense if net transportation costs per barrel (perhaps three times higher than using pipelines) are less than the price discount the crude producer would otherwise have to accept. Over time this gap won’t exist, as the pipeline infrastructure adjusts, but right now rail’s flexibility is a huge asset.
  • Retailers still in high gear—for now

    One of the clearest and easiest-to-read indicators of monthly economic performance is retail sales. And judging by the most recent set of data released this morning, Albertans were still in prime shopping condition in November.
  • Alberta moms know what they're doing

    Employment insurance claims are often associated with unpleasant events—usually the loss of a job or the onset of illness. However, most Canadian workers are eligible to collect employment insurance benefits for a decidedly happier reason: the arrival of a new child.
  • Economically Speaking: Mind the gap!

    There’s been a distinct difference in the rate of economic growth between Canada’s regions over the past several years. But new forecasts from some of Canada’s private sector economists are now expecting that gap to close.
  • Non-residential building stable in Alberta

    Yesterday’s Daily Economic Comment showed how investment in residential construction has held up quite well in Alberta. But housing is only part of the total equation in the construction sector. Non-residential construction also accounts for a large portion of building activity—and here, the story is “steady as she goes.”
  • Housing investment high

    Monthly home sales activity dropped precipitously in the second half of 2012, with the government’s tightening of mortgage insurance requirements. This has sparked concerns.
  • Europe's recession hitting Alberta exports

    Last week, Statistics Canada reported that global exports from Alberta slid in November. While sales to the U.S. and Asian markets have been steady, exports to certain other markets have been falling—especially Europe.
  • Bankruptcies still falling

    Household debt levels have been rising in Canada and Alberta. Unfortunately, at times, some consumers find themselves unable to carry their debt loads. But over the past few years, Albertans’ rate of personal bankruptcies has continued to trend gradually lower.
  • Alberta's economy 2013: five trends to watch

    The start of the year is a good time to look forward and make predictions about what’s coming up. And as always, Alberta’s economy has some thrilling and chilling events in store. Here’s a Top Five list of trends to watch:
  • Little pink houses for you and me

    Construction is one of the most important economic drivers in Alberta’s economy. Not surprisingly, a lot of attention is paid to indicators of building activity, especially around housing starts. Here, the most recent data give a bit of a mixed picture.
  • Tanking gasoline prices

    For everyone who stretched credit cards over the holidays, there is some good news: not since 2009 have retail gas prices been so low in Alberta. That means all families will have a little more left over at the end of the month.
  • Mmmm... donuts!

    Who said carbs are so bad? Apparently, not us. Albertans are gobbling up a record amount of fresh baked breads, cookies, and other delicious pastries coming out of bakeries around the province.
  • Get a job. Or, start your own!

    The rate of self-employment tends to rise in the hard times and fall during the good, as companies either contract or expand their payrolls. But in Alberta, the chance of being self-employed is also affected by where you live.
  • Job market cools its heels

    Thousands of new Albertans arrive each quarter because of the hot labour situation in the province. But judging by the most recent numbers, the jobs market may be cooling just a bit.
  • Oil prices not created equal

    Anyone who is in Alberta for more than 15 minutes learns the provincial economy rises and falls with energy prices—and these days that means oil. The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmark price sets the trend for other varieties of oil, but it certainly isn’t the only price. A price quoted closer to home reveals why some oil companies—and the provincial government—long for better days ahead.
  • Flocking to Alberta

    Final numbers aren’t in, but odds are this province has never, not even during the boom years, welcomed more new Albertans than in 2012. This isn’t surprising, as the labour market here has been the best in the country and housing costs are relatively affordable.
  • An economic poem for the season

    Poetry for the season!
  • Alberta shoppers in top form

    The shopping will be fast and furious this weekend in the lead up to Christmas. But judging by the most recent statistics, it appears that many Albertans have been in serious training for some time already.
  • EI changes coming shortly

    Starting early in the New Year Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) system is set for a pretty big change: for the first time claimants will be tiered based on their past frequency of claims. The change is aimed at bringing more efficiency to the labour market, but whether or not the changes will actually encourage more migration is yet to be determined.
  • Sugar, ah, honey, honey!

    On a piece of toast or stirred into lemon tea, honey is a great treat that almost makes you forget how a bee can ruin a picnic. Both Canada and Alberta have seen the value of its production rise lately.
  • Cattle, hogs and YouTube

    Farmers in Alberta are accustomed to the wild ups and downs of livestock prices—if they weren’t, they wouldn’t last 10 minutes in the industry. These days, cattle prices are reaching some record highs, and hog prices are recovering, too. However, in the big picture, livestock prices aren’t keeping pace with inflation.
  • Economically Speaking: The third leg of Alberta's economy

    Think of Alberta’s economy supported by three legs of a stool—each leg plays a different role. One leg is the municipal, provincial and federal governments. The second leg is the private sector, or the “free market” economy. And the third is community and charity work. Increasingly, Albertans are finding solutions to the social issues in neither government nor the market.
  • Sticker shock? Not so much for new homes

    Fresh paint, new appliances, shiny bathrooms— there’s plenty of appeal to owning a brand new home. And consistent with the currently balanced real estate market in Alberta, the price tags on these newly built abodes remain steady.
  • Not ready to retire?

    One of the less commonly examined statistics in the monthly jobs report is the participation rate. It measures the percentage of the total population over the age of 15 who are actively working or looking for work. While that percentage has remained relatively constant for Alberta’s overall population, it is rising steadily for one particular age group.
  • Canada's crude export anomaly

    Most major energy exporting nations run large trade surpluses. But not Canada. Russia, for instance, has had a monthly trade surplus of between $13 billion and $20 billion and in Venezuela the quarterly trade surplus runs between $5 billion and $13 billion. Since the recession, Canada has typically recorded trade deficits, a trend that continued through October 2012.
  • Keep on truckin'

    Total operating revenue for trucking companies in Alberta in the final quarter of 2011 (the most recent data available) was $2.18 billion—a new record high. At the same time, total operating expenses were $1.88 billion. That left the total profit margin at about $300 million, or just about where it was in the same quarter a year previous.
  • Economically Speaking: The problem with modesty

    Maybe it’s part of our national DNA, but all too often we need some affirmation from the rest of the world to really realize how talented we are. The same goes for our cities. We live in some of the best, most liveable, and most desirable places on earth, but sometimes we don’t realize it until someone else says it first.
  • Forget the snow and ice—we rock!

    Albertans know we live in a pretty good place. But do we really know how great it is? Sadly, sometimes it takes someone else to recognize us before we realize how amazing our cities are. That recognition came this week.
  • Alberta's unique housing cycle

    Alberta real estate has marched to its own rhythm for the better part of a decade now. The real estate craze that has gripped most of the nation since 2009 has largely bypassed a province where the memory of a bursting real estate bubble was still fresh. Over the years, Alberta has managed what is hoped the rest of the country will experience: a soft landing.
  • Pizza after the game

    Recent data on shopping habits reveal that Albertans spend more dollars per person than they do elsewhere in the country. But they also appear to be spending more on their second favourite activity: dining out.
  • Construction in Alberta not limited to houses

    Alberta created more jobs in the construction sector over the last year than any other single sector. And those construction workers weren’t busy building only houses. Spending on non-residential construction in Alberta is holding steady.
  • Economically Speaking: The benefits of being noticed

    Canada has had its share of being singled out and embarrassed on the global stage. But 2012 might mark a turnaround for Canada—at least as far as grabbing some well-deserved positive attention. Consider three recent events that put us solidly at the cool kids table.
  • Food manufacturers' input costs also rising

    On Tuesday, the Daily Economic Comment explored how food prices for consumers are 28 per cent higher than a decade ago. But consumers are not the only ones seeing rising prices. Food producers are finding their input costs rising as well.
  • Lumber prices rolling higher

    Alberta’s lumber industry is the third most important in Canada, after B.C. and Quebec, but it’s often overshadowed by the stupendous amount of economic activity generated by the energy and agriculture industries. The forestry industry was hit hard by the downturn, but lately it’s been showing signs of life.
  • Shopping cart blues

    Albertans may be paying a bit less these days for home electronics, clothes, and natural gas. But of all of the essential items consumers purchase, food prices have shown little relief. In fact, the cost of loading up that cart at the grocery store is rising more than almost anything else we buy.
  • Income up down on the farm

    Crop farmers in Alberta may well be finished their harvesting for the year, but that doesn’t mean their work is finished. And if the cash receipts they’ve received over the first three quarters of 2012 are any indication, this year should go down as one of the very best the province has ever seen.
  • Economically Speaking: Why innovation ought to be more than a buzzword

    Innovation in its true form is essential to economic progress. It would be a shame if it becomes so overused and so devoid of meaning that it gets tossed into the intellectual trash can of jargon.
  • Flying off the shelves

    After two record-setting months of shopping over the summer, you’d think Albertans would be ready to lay off the retail therapy for a bit. That didn’t happen. In fact, shoppers ramped up the spending even more.
  • Employment by sector

    Alberta’s economy is one of the brightest job markets in the country—over 36,000 new jobs have been created in the past 12 months. But not every sector of the province has been churning out jobs equally.
  • Concerned with mortgage debt?

    That ultra low interest rates have encouraged a number of households to take on excessive debt is well documented. What receives less attention is the negative impact low interest rates have had on individuals living off of interest income or trying to save for retirement. In Alberta, the number one financial concern isn’t mortgage debt—it’s investment returns on RRSPs.
  • Low income in Alberta

    With Alberta’s low unemployment rate and strong economy, many families are enjoying rising incomes and comfortable living. But not everyone in the province is doing so well—indeed, thousands of households are struggling to get by.
  • Economically Speaking: Music reviews for economists

    What if this week’s economic news makers were releasing music CDs? Here’s how some of the reviews might read.
  • Healthy manufacturing numbers

    According to Statistics Canada, in September Canadian manufacturers shipped a seasonally adjusted $49.8 billion worth of goods. That’s 0.4 per cent better than August and 1.8 per cent better on a year-over-year basis.
  • Small is beautiful

    Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are the heart and soul of many communities throughout the country. In fact, nearly 95 per cent of companies in Canada are considered small or medium in size. Given that, it’s a good thing that their business optimism is turning higher.
  • Quite refined!

    It’s a product most of us are very familiar with—in fact, we end up purchasing it more frequently than almost anything else we buy. But the actual production of gasoline in Canada is something we probably know little about. Even though gasoline prices seem to climb higher steadily, the amount refined in this country has not kept pace.
  • Economically Speaking: An adult conversation on regional transfers

    Ever since the 1950s when the provincial equalization program of wealth redistribution was introduced, Ottawa has fiddled with the formula. How can we jig it so everyone’s happy?
  • Alberta's housing starts hanging in

    Despite the anxieties in Europe, uncertainty in the U.S., and a faltering economy in other parts of Canada, Alberta remains remarkably stable. The province’s balanced housing market has been one of the most convincing indicators of that.
  • US elections, history and monetary policy

    Obama wins and the value of the US dollar slips. This is largely because the Federal Reserve’s cheap money policy will continue (Romney wasn’t a fan), but this isn’t the first time Democrats favoured easy access to money as a way to help a weak economy while the Republicans worried more about the strength of the dollar.
  • Public sector employment

    Healthy debates rage over the size of government, particularly how high taxes should be and how that tax money should be spent. But, according to labour statistics, the one thing governments have not been doing with that money is hiring more people.
  • The business of bricks and mortar

    By almost any measure, business optimism in Alberta is about the brightest of anywhere in the country. And one thing that almost any business requires is a roof over its head—and the heads of its customers and clients. This morning, new data suggest what to expect in commercial construction activity.
  • Economically Speaking: Obama vs. Romney—Who'd be better for Alberta?

    A lot hangs in the balance of the November 6th U.S. election, especially for Americans. But the results of the election will have some implications in Canada and Alberta, as well. Is it possible to gauge which candidate would be better for Alberta’s economy?
  • China's currency a US election issue

    There is not much direct trade between China and Alberta, but China’s indirect influence on the provincial economy is enormous due to its pull on global commodity prices. And one of the links between China’s economic growth and the price of commodities is the exchange rate.
  • Canadian economy the walking dead?

    The Halloween release of the latest figures on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was neither trick nor treat for the Canadian economy. Rather, it was something closer to a nightmare.
  • Lumbering along

    Prices for lumber are currently some of the strongest the industry has enjoyed in almost three years. You have to go all the way back to the pre-recession years of 2004 and 2005 to find lumber prices consistently this solid.
  • Apartment investment: the story of storeys

    The stretches of new communities and single-family homes that sprout up around the province are often the images we have of residential construction. But investment in apartment building is another significant portion of the industry. And it can be marked by extreme volatility.
  • Economically Speaking: Shop 'til you pop?

    This week, new data indicate Albertans have reached another record high in retail spending. In August, shoppers racked up a whopping $5.76 billion in new clothes, food, cars, appliances and whatever else retailers offer. And on a per capita basis, Albertans spent $1,488 in August, far more than any other province. What is behind this consumer binge?
  • If you pay them, they will come

    Money may not buy happiness, but plenty of Albertans are finding their earnings still purchase an awful lot! Not only do they enjoy the hottest job market in the country at the moment, they’re also paid better than anywhere else.
  • Alberta's changing rental market

    The provincial rental market has changed dramatically in the past couple of decades: the majority of rental units are no longer built and financed specifically with renters in mind. Today, the typical landlord is a higher income family renting out former owner-occupied residences or condo-converted rental units.
  • Cure for the summertime blues

    Eddie Cochran may have sung that there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues, but don’t tell that to Albertans. If they were feeling blue last summer, they found their cure in the shopping malls.
  • The upside to low natural gas prices

    Most Albertans are aware of the fact that low prices for North American natural gas have crimped the bottom lines of many energy sector companies—and indeed on the budget of the provincial government. Low gas prices have resulted in less drilling activity in the province and far fewer royalty dollars. But there is an upside to those low gas prices, as well.
  • Economically Speaking: Crisis? What crisis?

    What is it about people that we’re so attracted to economic panic and alarm? Are the business pages and economic news stories so bland and lifeless that we need to stir up crises out of nothing? Consider one of the biggest news stories this fall in Alberta: the E.coli situation.
  • E.I. claims tick up

    They may still be basking in the hottest job market in the country, but a few more Albertans were pounding the pavement looking for work at the end of summer. The number of Albertans claiming Employment Insurance (E.I.) benefits in August rose slightly to 61,530—up from 61,480 in July.
  • Following the American debt path?

    Yes, Canada’s love affair with real estate has caused debt to reach disconcerting levels, roughly equivalent to prerecession American levels. But analogies shouldn’t be taken too far, as Canada is following its own debt path.
  • Manufacturing's decline exaggerated?

    Mark Twain’s endlessly transferable observation that his death was greatly exaggerated might well apply to Canada’s manufacturing sector. It has had challenges with appreciating currency and increasing labour costs, but shipments have continued to grow.
  • Closing in on British Columbia?

    After having overtaken Saskatchewan in the 1930s, Alberta has been by far the most populous province on the Canadian Prairies. British Columbia holds the title for all of western Canada, but if current growth rates continue, Alberta could capture that prize, too.
  • Economically Speaking: No lockout here!

    For those hockey fans who are grieving the lockout and having withdrawal, here are the economic stories of the week in a form you may appreciate.
  • Kids play, but parents PAY!

    The level of overall consumer price inflation may be benign in Alberta at the moment: only 1.0 per cent increase in prices overall. But don’t tell that to parents with children in sports. The prices of some of these extracurricular activities are straining the budgets of some Alberta households.
  • Alberta's job picture: it all depends

    There are few places in the world where workers are sought after more than in Alberta, but, even here, there is sought after, and then there is sought after. Because, when it comes to good work finding you, it’s also a question of how old you are, where in the province you work, and what skills you bring.
  • New home construction picks up

    Hammers were swinging and table saws whirring in Alberta last month as residential construction hit the reverse switch on its recent slowdown. Housing starts throughout the province rebounded to just above 33,000* in September.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Job engine slowing

    It may still be the best jobs market in the country, but the pace of new jobs being created in Alberta has slowed down over the past several months. New numbers released this morning confirm that moderating trend.
  • Calgarians keep going home

    Home sales in Calgary might have slipped slightly in August, but it’s hardly anything to worry about. Unlike the large decline in sales activity in Vancouver and Toronto, the slight drop in Calgary appears to be mostly seasonally driven, the market action’s typically being highest in the spring and lowest in the winter.
  • You (and you and you) are on the air!

    With a deluge of on-line entertainment and hundreds of TV channels for Albertans to choose from, traditional radio broadcasting is hanging in there as an alternative choice for listeners. But the radio industry is both on the rise and the fall.
  • Beef sliders

    Save a good thought for Alberta’s cattle ranchers. If it isn’t a high Canadian dollar, soaring feed prices, or drought, it’s something else. And over the last four weeks, that something else has been E. coli O157:H7.
  • An appetite for dining out

    Even as much of the world’s economy seems to be hunkering down into bleak austerity, Albertans are spending more than ever—and they’re doing it in some of their favourite eating and drinking hangouts around the province.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Economy expands in July

    Economists were fearing the worst. But it turns out that the economy was stronger at the start of the third quarter than was forecast. Adjusted for inflation, Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 0.2 per cent in July, month over month.
  • Wages march higher

    Stagnant inflation plus rising wages equal a higher material standard of living. By themselves, money and things don’t buy happiness, but they certainly don’t put you in a bad mood—unless, of course, you’re the one materially responsible for paying those higher wages.
  • Real estate angst? Not in Alberta.

    In some major Canadian markets, home sales have been in free fall, triggering anxiety that prices might soon follow. The correction is being blamed on changes to mortgage insurance (MI) rules. Although those rules apply nationally, Alberta remains in good shape.
  • July shopping: higher, stronger, vaster!

    Maybe it was the great weather, or maybe it was the inspiring athleticism of the London Olympics. Whatever it was, Albertans rallied with their own “Olympian” efforts in the shopping malls and car lots in July.
  • The price of importing

    Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney has been dishing out advice lately to Canada’s private sector: get busy and invest! With the loonie now well above parity, it’s a great time for Canadian companies to purchase new machinery and equipment, much of which is imported from the U.S. or is priced in U.S. dollars. However, not all industries are created equally for that opportunity.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Inflation remains the same

    It used to be one of the most dreaded and hated economic indicators around. But these days, overall consumer price inflation is little more than a whimper—even if shoppers are seeing some sticker shock in the grocery stores.
  • Our lives, our homes

    Statistics Canada releases the census results in stages, and on Wednesday came data on families, households and marital status. Alberta’s growth rate of 10.7 per cent was the fastest in the nation, corresponding to an annual average of 30,000 new households.
  • Economic diversity fading

    The percentage of investment dedicated to natural resource extraction is as high as it's ever been. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But an increasingly-less-diversified economy can pose problems down the road. Just ask any Albertan who lived through the ‘80s.
  • Not for hippies anymore

    You know the script: cows, wheat, canola. But just when you think you’ve learned all you can about what Alberta’s farmers are growing, there’s a new and surprising crop sprouting up around the province.
  • On top of the world!

    Calgary is world famous for the Calgary Stampede and for Spruce Meadows and its proximity to Banff National Park. But, according to one global real estate consultancy, Calgary is on top of the world for a reason other than mounts and mountains: returns on property investments.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Manufacturing levels off

    Many of Alberta’s economic indicators suggest a bit of softening moving into the second half of 2012, and this morning’s data on the value of manufacturing shipments add to that chorus.
  • New home prices flat, but...

    Home prices are flat, but flat doesn’t necessarily mean unhealthy. There were a host of reasons why housing prices more than doubled during the boom, but it’s hard to argue prices didn’t overshoot. The best way for the market to re-adjust is a sustained period of relatively flat prices. But flat won’t last forever.
  • Productivity and employment

    Can increased productivity be an obstacle to employment growth? Even raising the question sounds odd, because productivity a good thing, right? The recent story south of the border—where the post-contraction task of getting the unemployment rate down has proven an uphill battle—gives us a valuable perspective on the timely question.
  • Housing starts cooling

    The pace of new home construction provides one of the best gauges of economic activity. And, judging by Alberta’s latest figure on housing starts, the economy appears to be slowing. However, there’s still no reason to sound the alarm.
  • Working late

    At 4.4 per cent, Alberta has the lowest unemployment rate in the country. But more than just working a lot of jobs, many Albertans work longer hours as well.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Alberta adds jobs in August

    The Alberta job making machine continued to churn out more workers in August, but the pace of job creation has slowed from a year ago.
  • Calgary's healthy housing market

    After a spring of defying the negative national housing market sentiment, the Calgary market cooled a bit in August. But, Alberta’s largest city remains one the nation’s most solid real estate markets.
  • Got milk?

    When you think of cattle and Alberta, you probably think of a big, juicy steak. But beef farmers are not the only ones raising things that go moo. Alberta’s dairy farmers contribute a significant amount to overall farm cash receipts in the province. But, as far as trends go, milk production is about as stable as it gets.
  • Home renovations strong in Q2

    There’s plenty of information on home sales and new houses being built, but, on any given month, most Albertans stay put in their existing dwellings. However, staying put doesn’t mean they’re not putting more money into those properties, as new figures from Statistics Canada’s quarterly report on residential construction indicate.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Canadian GDP chugs higher

    One of the most reliable and closely watched indicators of economic activity is the quarterly national accounts, which measures the gross domestic product. On this final day of August, we learn that the Canadian economy keeps chugging along—slowly but surely.
  • How much is 60 minutes worth?

    Job seekers from around the country have been flocking to Alberta because jobs are plentiful. But there may be another reason why they come seeking those jobs: many of them pay well, too.
  • Old MacDonald is smiling these days

    Farmers in Alberta are watching the sun on their fields during the last few days of summer 2012. But in addition to the weather—which so far has been quite favourable—they’re also watching commodity prices.
  • Loonie above parity...again

    The Canadian dollar is again hovering above parity with the United States dollar. This time it’s being driven to such heights not because of stellar Canadian economic news, but, rather, from instability beyond our borders that Mark Carney has indicated manufacturers will have to learn to live with.
  • Forestry sector has a pulse

    The impact of the higher Canadian dollar and weak U.S. market on the auto industry is garnering a lot of media attention, but those same forces have, perhaps, wreaked even more havoc on the forestry industry over the past couple of years. Forestry has been adapting, and, thankfully, the news has started to be more positive.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Humans catching up!

    For years, Alberta’s beef ranching sector accounted for nearly two-thirds of total agriculture receipts in the province. That balance has shifted lately and now grain and oilseeds make up the majority. But the decline in cattle ranching may be about to stop.
  • Fewer Albertans collecting E.I.

    Canada is blessed with a system of social safety nets, and one of those used by many workers is employment insurance (E.I.) benefits when faced with a loss of work. Fortunately, fewer Albertans are tumbling into the net this summer.
  • Albertans pulling back spending

    Strong household spending is a big reason why Canada managed through the great recession as well as it did, but it looks like households are pulling back. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, given big debt loads, but if it keeps up this means Canada will have to look elsewhere for growth.
  • Wholesale trade takes a break in June

    When thinking of buying and selling goods, we normally think of what goes on in the shopping malls and grocery stores. But sales at the retail level are not the only measure of trade—sales of wholesalers to the retails also give a sense of what’s going on.
  • Home is where the "art" is

    Judging by home sales and new housing starts lately, it’s clear Albertans have an enthusiasm for their abodes. And what’s a new home without a brand new fridge, recliner, or painting for over the sofa? Home furnishing sales often go hand-in-hand with housing sales—but so far, buyers haven’t yet caught up to the pre-recession highs.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Inflation tame

    It may feel like there are a lot of things to fear in the global and national economy these days, but consumer inflation is not one of them.
  • Manufacturing slips further in June

    After coming back strong in the latter half of 2011, manufacturing has lost some momentum and has started to slip in recent months—with June’s data continuing the slide.
  • Build it and they will come—but you’ll have to pay for it first

    Shiny new office towers are transforming the skylines of both Calgary and Edmonton, and industrial and commercial projects are sprouting up around the province. But with the stronger 2012 economy, building costs for non-residential projects are once again increasing.
  • How good do we have it?

    Albertans may be surprised to hear that compared to many other places in the developed world, our unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the world.
  • Full-time and part-time work

    Last week Statistics Canada released the latest Labour Force Survey, which showed Alberta gained about 5,800 jobs in July. But not all jobs are the same—economists like to see gains in full-time positions as a sign of a healthy economy. On that front, Alberta is doing just fine.

  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Alberta adds jobs in July

    Economists are looking for a bit of good news from the labour force survey as they head off to the lake or campground this weekend. But the news is split—positive in Alberta—but negative almost everywhere else.
  • New home prices continue to climb

    New home sales indicators continue to be relatively strong in Alberta.
  • Is Alberta crude under-priced?

    Not all oil prices are created equally. In fact, North American prices have been lower than international prices for quite some time. For producers in Alberta, that means money is being left on the table.
  • Building permits dip in June

    After a good run of building intentions over the first half of the year, the value of permits issued in both of Alberta’s two largest cities dipped in June.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Home prices stable in 2012

    With the changes to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) mortgage rules in July (lowering amortization to 25 years) there has been anticipation of a drop in residential property prices. But prices in Alberta have so far been remarkably stable.
  • Business sentiment edges lower

    Alberta’s entrepreneurs are doing better than most at the moment, but even in this province the sunny outlook comes with the occasional cloud or two.
  • Broadband Connectivity

    The Summer Olympics bring out the world’s best sport competitors, but countries compete in other ways as well. Statistics collected by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) show that when it comes to a decidedly non-athletic past-time—the Internet—not all countries are playing the same game.
  • Economic growth slowing

    From Europe to China to the United States, economic indicators have been trending negative.
  • Europe's big week

    It’s really hard for an economy to gain any traction when there’s a threat of a major economic event on the horizon—such as the break-up of the euro. The lack of confidence in the future keeps consumers at home and business from investing, feeding the uncertainty.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Rail Traffic Patterns 2012

    Railcar loading's can be an important economic indicator, and in 2012, the numbers are quite different for Eastern and Western Canada.
  • Not all paycheques are created equal

    The inflow of workers to Alberta is a reflection of both the good job market and the good pay. And with many employees in this province taking home some hefty wages, the size of that weekly paycheque depends a lot on the industry in which you work.
  • Accommodating the Alberta bound

    There’s a reason why Calgary’s CTrain has been feeling more congested lately: people have been flocking to Alberta. Not since the boom years have so many people arrived in our province—and if the pace keeps up it will have important implications for the local economy.
  • Shop 'til you drop

    Relaxation and recreation come in many forms for different people and here in Alberta, many of us like to kick back and relax with a good old-fashioned trip to the mall. With the buoyant economy, good job opportunities and rising wages, it seems Albertans just can’t get enough retail therapy.
  • Technology unlocks crude oil reserves

    New drilling technology changed the world of natural gas, causing production to surge and prices to tank. The impact of the new technology doesn’t end with natural gas though, as it can also be used to unlock new supplies (reserves) of crude oil. The relative impact, however, is currently estimated to be far more muted.
  • Young and young at heart

    They say age is a state of mind. And while Alberta has the youngest population among the provinces, the age distribution between the various major cities varies significantly.
  • Alberta manufacturing slowing down

    When you think about manufacturing in Canada, it’s probably Ontario’s auto parts industry or Quebec’s aerospace sector that pops to mind. But Alberta has more than oil and beef. Manufacturing is an important contributor to our provincial economy—albeit at a somewhat slower pace over the last few months.
  • Q2 non-residential construction strong

    The endless roar of earthmovers, jackhammers and welding torches may fray the nerves of some, but that’s the price one pays for a red-hot economy. And in Alberta, that roaring sound on construction sites ramped up over the spring.
  • Crops off to a great start

    When things go badly in farming and in hockey, there’s always the hopeful saying: “Next year.” But farmers in Alberta have actually been racking up some pretty good seasons lately. Forget next year—this year appears to be on track for another very successful crop.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Working hard for the money

    It’s a phrase heard often around the province. Someone asks “How are things going?” The answer, of course, is one word: “Busy!” That's because when it comes to employment, Albertans are not only the highest paid in the country they work some of the longest hours.
  • Despite energy exports, Canada posts trade deficits

    Alberta’s wealth is largely attributable to energy exports, whether it’s the investment necessary to get it out of the ground, the royalties that roll in, or the corporate spending accounts fuelling Stampede this week. But all of that energy flowing south isn’t enough to push the national balance in merchandise trade positive.
  • Low income in Alberta

    There’s been a lot of attention on rising incomes and fat paycheques in Alberta this year. However, not everyone in the province is rolling in the dough. Sometimes forgotten in all of the good news stories is the fact that thousands of Albertans are living with low incomes.
  • Positive borrowing conditions for businesses

    The federal government acted to tighten credit conditions for housing because they feared Canadians were overinvesting in real-estate. Higher business investment in non-residential construction and machinery and equipment, on the other hand, would certainly be cheered.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Jobs falter in June

    Alberta’s job market may be one of the hottest on the continent, but every now and then it too needs to stop and catch its breath. In June, it did just that.
  • Buy the book

    Alberta’s economy is doing well and most indicators in the retail and manufacturing sectors are showing solid gains. But at least one traditional industry is bucking this trend and watching revenue slump lower.
  • Bankruptcy rates easing

    When debt repayment becomes unmanageable, one of the unfortunate options is to declare personal bankruptcy. Thankfully, the number of people having to file has been falling since the peak of the 2009 downturn.
  • Order up! Restaurant receipts hit record high

    In another sign that Alberta’s economy was heating up this past spring, the amount of money spent on meals and beverages hit a record high!
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: GDP expands in April

    Canada’s economy has been growing in fits and starts over the past several years with some months expanding and some contracting. But the second quarter of 2012 got off to a good start with a health expansion in April.
  • Those vast yellow canola fields are golden

    Crop prices have been soaring of late, but it’s the price farmers are getting for canola that is attracting attention. And that higher canola price is having an impact on planting decisions, with more hectares being dedicated to the golden crop.
  • Alberta family incomes

    Alberta’s two largest cities have enjoyed a healthy rivalry in many ways over the years, but in at least one area—average family income—Cowtown has enjoyed a slight advantage. However, over the last decade Oiltown has been catching up.
  • Farmers paying more

    As the summer of 2012 gets underway, there appears to be plenty of moisture around the province and product prices are still quite good. Certainly Alberta farmers have been enjoying some good incomes over the past few years, but what farmers earn for their product is only half the story. What about farm expenses?
  • Summer driving season gets cheaper

    Falling gas prices is coming as an unexpected surprise to all those families counting down the days to get their summer vacation plans started. A welcome surprise for now, no doubt, but longer term most Albertans know higher gas prices means a better local economy.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Prices cool going into summer

    The world has changed an awful lot in a few short months. A couple months ago inflation was running north of 2 per cent and the Bank of Canada was rumbling about the possibility of interest rates being raised earlier rather than later. Fast forward to today, the latest inflation report shows the pace of price increases slowed considerably—considerably lowering the case to tighten rates.
  • Alberta (In)Bound

    Once again, Alberta is the place to be! This, based on the latest population and migration data released this morning.
  • American jobs returning...but slowly

    After six months of strength, American employment numbers in recent months have been poor. This increases the odds the Federal Reserve will try and stimulate the economy—an action that may happen fairly soon. In the meantime, there’s some interesting data out there, specifically the numbers by industry.
  • Higher by a country mile

    Regular monthly reports show Albertans earn the healthiest weekly paycheques in the country. But in a separate report on annual household income, the same point is highlighted: Alberta is the place to be for top wages.
  • Bienvenue en Alberta!

    The shortage of labour in Alberta is once again reaching a worrying level. Foreign temporary workers and migrants from other provinces are being recruited to fill vacant positions, and one province particularly—Quebec—is seeing job seekers moving to Alberta in greater numbers.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Manufacturing pulls back

    Talk to just about anyone in Alberta these days about the economy and you’re likely to get the same answer: the boom is back. But flying in the face of that assessment is new data from the manufacturing sector released this morning.
  • Picking up the slack

    Canada’s total industrial capacity utilization clocked in at 80.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2012. That’s a bit higher than the consensus of economists’ forecasts (80.5 per cent) and the highest since the end of 2007 prior to the economic recession.
  • Forestry industry hopeful

    While the North American forestry industry has seen better times, Alberta’s forestry activity has held up relatively well compared to eastern Canada. Still, many are hoping the bottom has been reached and there are better days ahead.
  • Hiring intentions cool nationally, but not locally

    Is the job market weakening? Nationally, yes. Today’s Manpower Survey—a leading indicator of hiring intentions for the coming months—reports the lowest hiring intentions in two years and last month’s employment report was weak. But here in Alberta and the rest of western Canada, the employment outlook continues to look good.
  • Crude oil's worrying slide

    News out of Europe has been grabbing headlines, but its energy that pays the bills in Alberta and news on the energy front has been troubling. The negative impact on Alberta’s economy of low natural gas prices has been largely offset by strong crude oil prices, but various events are weighing on the market for crude.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Alberta adds jobs, Ontario slips

    Canada’s east-west economic gap was apparent in this morning’s employment report. Alberta continues to generate jobs at a fairly rapid pace, while nationally employment remains constant.
  • Move west, young men and women

    Alberta’s economy picked up steam through 2011 and wages began to climb higher after stagnating for a bit during the recession. Other parts of Canada weren’t so lucky, especially in the country’s most populous province, where wages have stalled altogether.
  • Housing: Investment or consumption?

    While a wasteful public sector has driven Greece, and to a lesser extent Italy, to the edge of fiscal abyss, for the most part, Spain and Ireland’s problems had a different cause. The sovereign debt crisis in those two countries was mostly related to the over-investment in housing, necessitating a public intervention.
  • Bank of Canada doesn’t move rates

    Like students who keep getting extensions for past due assignments, heavily indebted borrowers got yet another reprieve today when it was announced the Bank of Canada (BOC) will keep its key overnight rate at 1 per cent.
  • Farming towns getting more exciting

    For generations, young people have depopulated farming communities for the lights, and job opportunities, of the city. Times are changing, though, and thanks to surging commodity prices, the gap in economic opportunities for the young people from rural areas is likely narrowing.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Canadian GDP numbers disappoint

    The good news is the economy is still expanding. The bad news is the economy is not expanding as fast as many had hoped. With the wind being taken slightly out of the Canadian economy’s sails, it’ll certainly cause talk of imminent interest rate hikes to diminish—at least for the time being.
  • Alberta’s high earnings: two sides to every coin

    Many people from other parts of the country are moving to Alberta in 2012—not just for the great job opportunities, but also for the better pay. However, those fatter paycheques can sometimes come at a cost.
  • High value of loonie sends Canadians south

    Increasingly Canadian households are taking advantage of our strong dollar by choosing to “buy American.” It’s a trend that is causing concern amongst many Canadian retailers and tourism providers.
  • Are natural gas prices turning the corner?

    Thanks to technological advances in the world of natural gas, producers are accessing reserves that were once uneconomic to extract. The flood of natural gas depressed the price, but the market is adjusting, with the bottom having hopefully been reached and brighter days ahead.
  • Drilling activity hits low ebb for the year

    While the frantic activity of the oilsands is often in the spotlight, it’s Alberta’s conventional drilling for oil and gas that’s still a primary driver of our economy. Over the last three months, total active rigs have fallen by 86 per cent—but don’t worry: that’s normal.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Loonie takes a dip

    What goes up must come down. And this week, the Canadian dollar has decidedly been doing the latter. The softer Canadian dollar certainly brings a bit of relief to exporters— particularly those manufacturing exporters in central Canada who have been struggling with the loonie near par.
  • EI numbers down

    In another sign of better economic times in Alberta, the social safety net for the unemployed has gotten a little bit less crowded.
  • Farmers flush...for now

    Don’t be surprised if you see an abundance of commercials geared towards farmers across the prairies this summer. Farm cash receipts, especially for crop farmers, spiked considerably in the first quarter of 2012—and marketers will be trying to convince them to part with some of those dollars.
  • Singin' the gas pump blues

    The May long weekend is the kick-off to the summer travel season—and it’s often accompanied by an increase in the price of gas at the pump. Alberta gas prices may not have experienced the traditional Victoria Day bump this year, but they still outpaced general price inflation over the past ten years.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Inflation tamed in Alberta

    Canadians in other provinces may have noticed a bit of sticker shock in April, but shoppers in Alberta were more likely to notice some price relief—especially for energy.
  • Wholesale trade activity weakens

    Wholesale trade numbers in March came in relatively flat—after a year of posting strong gains. Now, too much shouldn’t be read into a couple of months of data, but this appears to be a sign the economy is catching its breath after expanding at a fairly robust rate.
  • Manufacturing flattens out

    Factory floors and refineries in Alberta have been a blur of activity lately. However, the rate of increase seems to have levelled off somewhat in the first quarter of 2012.
  • New vehicle sales rev up in 2012

    Who doesn't like that new car smell? Attractive financing, combined with a stronger labour market and higher gas prices, is making it easier than its been in a long time for car dealers to convince customers to take the plunge and buy a new, fuel efficient, vehicle.
  • Regional differences in unemployment

    With Alberta’s economy back in the groove, it’s a job bonanza for a lot of people—employment is at a record high. Still, the potential job opportunities are not uniform across the province for job seekers.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: It's growing season

    Spring seems to have sprung in Alberta’s job market after a bit of a slow stretch over the winter months. In April, the number of people in the province working rose by 10,700—the strongest gain since last summer.
  • Alberta's exports on the rise

    No man is an island. Neither is Alberta—our trade linkages with the rest of the world are critical. And thanks to firmer energy prices and a somewhat brighter picture south of the border, those linkages have strengthened lately.
  • Up, up and away?

    Go to any of Alberta’s airports and take a look at the departure board. It feels like there are more planes leaving than ever before. But surprisingly, data released this morning suggests that’s not the case. In fact, the number of flights at our two largest airports haven’t kept track with population or economic growth.
  • Housing starts surge

    Canadian home prices are rising quickly. And as they should, builders and developers look at this development with glee. They see the surge in prices as a sign that housing starts haven’t been sufficient to meet demand. It’s an imbalance that they’re more than willing to help correct. Let’s hope, for everyone’s sake, that the price signal isn’t broken.
  • Construction intentions rise in March

    Build it and they will come? Well first, you need permission to build—and the permission slips for Alberta home and non-residential developers are on the rise.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: US job growth stalls

    Signs of a firming labour market in the United States are desperately desired by politicians and markets alike. Unfortunately, after employment reports gave a glimmer of hope over the past six months, the last two jobs reports have underwhelmed observers.
  • Edmonton's calm housing market

    Buying a home means having a place to hang your hat at night. It’s not principally a "get rich quick" scheme, even if it is normal to see some appreciation. During the boom years this was forgotten, but expectations have certainly been put back in the bottle, making it difficult for many to get excited about the recent real-estate data releases.
  • Calgary home prices gaining ground

    Calgary was the epicentre of housing “bubble” chatter not too long ago. That talk was just over five years ago and after an initial sharp dip and slight rebound following the recession, average residential resale prices remained flat - with finally some signs of growth going into the spring selling season.
  • Cheque please! Alberta restaurants serving up near record receipts

    Albertans have a bit more disposable income to spend as our economy fires on almost every cylinder. And it looks like those extra dollars are going to one of Albertans’ favourite activities: dining out.

  • Canada's GDP takes a dip

    Sometimes with the economy, it’s two steps forward and one step back — and in February — the Canadian economy saw itself shuffling in reverse.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Alberta steals the show in 2011

    We expected it to be good, but not this good. Alberta’s real GDP expanded by 5.2 per cent in 2011, beating the provincial government’s budget estimate of 3.5 per cent.
  • Fatter paycheques for Albertans

    Our booming economy is giving Albertans more reason to smile these days — with employees walking home at the end of the week with fatter paycheques than a year ago.
  • Rail carloads trend higher

    Economists track several indicators to get a sense of how the overall economy is performing. One of the best indicators comes from the transportation industry. Rising rail carloads in western Canada suggest higher production and economic activity.
  • Retail sales dip slightly in February

    A big part of the economic recovery has been the resilience of the Canadian shopper. After a brief, sharp, initial dip, wallets opened up and people hit the malls across the country. In February, however, the cash registers slowed down slightly.
  • Stock it and they will come

    The level of retail sales in shopping malls and big-box retailers give an excellent indicator of the general health of the economy. But how much those same retailers are stocking on their shelves gives another indication about how optimistic they are about future sales.
  • Inflation slows in Alberta

    Alberta shoppers paid, on average, 1.7% more in March for a typical basket of goods and services than they did a year ago. That rate of increase is down from 1.9% recorded in February, and is the lowest it’s been in twelve months.
  • Are Albertans ready for higher rates?

    William McChesney Martin, the ninth longest serving chairman of the Federal Reserve, is quoted as saying the job of the central bank is to take the punchbowl away, just as the party gets going. Cheap money gets the party going, but keep it around too long and someone will have a mess on their hands.
  • BoC: Tough decisions ahead

    Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney is in a tough spot. His mandate is to safeguard price stability in Canada, but by pulling the trigger on interest rates to put the brakes on budding inflationary pressures, he runs risks elsewhere in the economy.
  • Manufacturing ticks higher in February

    The level of activity in factories and refineries across Alberta is an important barometer of the overall economy. In February, the province’s manufacturers were churning out product at a fast pace, nearly surpassing a recent record high. But more importantly, they’re making more efficient use of labour.
  • New moms in the workforce

    One of the most common non-wage benefits offered to Alberta employees is maternity leave, which comes under the federal Employment Insurance program. While at any given time only a small percentage of female employees are on “mat leave,” the trend over the last thirty years in Alberta has shown some interesting patterns.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Chinese growth cools

    A big reason why commodity prices took off over the past decade has been China’s emergence as a major economic power. So while the U.S. is Canada’s most import trading partner, Canada’s economic fortune is almost as closely tied to Chinese growth because of the indirect impact it has on our principle export goods.
  • Trade numbers fail to impress

    It was hoped that international trade would pick up to help offset an expected slowdown in economic growth resulting from government spending cuts and eventual reduced construction activity in the GTA. Today’s merchandise trade numbers might have thrown a little cold water on that hope.
  • Good start to spring building season

    Canada’s collective love affair for real estate doesn’t look to be slowing. The figures for new housing starts in March were very strong across the country, indicating that the dour real estate sentiment that’s been circulating isn’t sinking the optimism of builders.
  • Albertan tax refund intentions

    Easter’s over and the next big date on the calendar is the end of the month, tax filing season is upon us. While it’s hard to find anyone who actually enjoys paying taxes, it’s a necessary evil and more Albertans than not will actually be receiving money from the government—so what do they plan to do with it?
  • Business outlook and lending conditions brighter

    Some positive economic news was released this morning to start the week. Today the Bank of Canada (BoC) released data showing that lending conditions eased and business optimism increased in the first quarter of 2012.
  • Alberta job market inches forward

    Alberta boasted the best labour market in the country last year, creating half of all new jobs from coast to coast. In the spring of 2012, the province is still creating jobs, but at a somewhat slower pace. And in March, central Canada’s job market was playing catch-up to Alberta.
  • Product is moving!

    Calgary’s residential real estate has shown some signs of life this spring with existing home sale prices edging higher. But what’s also positive for sellers is that sales are happening more quickly, and the average number of days a home spends on the market is falling.
  • Keep on truckin'

    The movement of goods and materials is something that most of us take for granted, but without a reliable and profitable transportation sector, Alberta’s economy would stall.
  • Let's go for lunch

    The amount households spend on non-essential items—what economists refer to as “discretionary spending”—can often give a good indication of consumer mood and confidence. Judging by the most recent data on what Albertans are spending in restaurants and drinking establishments, they’re feeling fairly upbeat.
  • Weekly Economic Comment: Ditching the penny

    Yesterday in the federal budget, the government of Canada announced its plan to eliminate the production of the 1-cent coin. It’s an excellent move, but the questions to ask are: what is the optimal coinage system in Canada, and could there be additional savings by revamping the whole system?
  • Turning Japanese!

    When thinking about Asia and Canada’s global trade position, most people’s first thought is our exports to China, or maybe India. But an oft-forgotten giant economy in Asia could be the key to some trade diversity for both Canada and Alberta.
  • Could’ve been the whiskey, might've been the gin

    This week, the Daily Economic Comment has featured new data on both wine and beer consumption in Alberta. Today, the troika is complete! Spirits such as vodka, gin, and tequila also help satisfy the thirst of many Albertans. Here, there’s been a distinct pattern towards foreign products.
  • Barley sandwiches

    Yesterday the Daily Economic Comment pointed out that wine consumption in Alberta has skyrocketed over 1,000 percent since 1950, from 1.4 to 16.2 litres per person annually. However, the same cannot be said for wine’s somewhat less sophisticated bar room sister—beer.
  • Que syrah, syrah

    Are Albertans a bunch of winers? According to new data released this morning by Statistics Canada, the number of litres of wine consumed by Albertans in 2011 was 16.2 per capita. That is a record high for the province.
  • Alberta inflation lower

    Yesterday we learned from Statistics Canada that retail spending in Alberta reached a new record high in January. This morning we learn that prices paid by those shoppers rose at a much slower rate in February, meaning some better deals on the store shelves.
  • Shopping still rules

    In yet another compelling sign that Alberta’s economy is entering another boom, shoppers in the province spent their way to another record high to kick off the New Year.
  • Leading indicators point up

    The economic news hasn’t been horrible, but it hasn’t been great either. Not only has the unemployment rate in many provinces begun to increase, but governments are also looking to reduce spending. It might seem surprising then that the index of leading indicators keeps rolling higher.
  • US housing starts uninspiring

    The American housing market is where the great recession began and it’s also where it will likely end.
  • Alberta's low post-secondary enrolment

    Alberta may top the other provinces in a lot of economic and social indicators, but in terms of enrolment in post-secondary education programs, Wild Rose Country is lagging behind most of the others.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Alberta manufacturing edges higher

    Shop floors, petroleum refineries, and fabricating centres in Alberta were a bit busier this January, starting off the New Year on the right foot.
  • Behind the US employment surge

    Driving optimism on the state of the United States economy has been a string of strong employment reports, which have pushed the unemployment rate down to 8.3% from 9% just six months prior.
  • Motor vehicle sales soar in January

    Shopping for a new car or truck is an activity usually associated with rising consumer confidence and optimism in the economy. If that’s the case, Albertans are feeling better about their job and wage opportunities than they have at any other point since the beginning of the downturn in 2008.
  • Western employers to ramp up hiring

    The national unemployment rate has been creeping up lately, but a look at hiring intentions over the coming months indicates that employers are optimistic that they will be expanding payrolls—especially in Western Canada.
  • Stay in school, ladies

    The disparities between men and women in the workforce are well-documented, but there are gaps between workers of the same gender, as well. Depending of education level, women in Alberta have experienced very different opportunities in the work force.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Employment dips

    Apparently, even juggernauts like the Alberta economy need to stop and recalibrate. After six consecutive months of growth, Alberta’s labour market took a bit of a breather and shed a few jobs in February.
  • If a tree falls in the forest ...

    While forestry is one of Alberta’s oldest and traditionally strongest sectors in Alberta, it is sometimes overshadowed by the much larger energy sector. Local forest product producers have seen some difficult times over the past decade, and challenges remained in 2011.
  • Building intentions stall in January

    The foot appears to be coming off of the pedal somewhat in Canada’s red hot construction industry. According to the Economist magazine, towards the end of 2011 there were at least twice as many skyscrapers (condominium and office towers) under construction in Toronto than in New York—a pace that wasn’t going to be maintained.
  • Hey ... get a room!

    When we think about inflation, we tend to naturally focus on the prices of things we buy frequently, especially food and gasoline. But prices also change for items purchased less frequently, such as hotel and motel accommodation—and prices vary depending on the type of traveller you are.
  • Contributions to pensions

    Now that RRSP season is over for another year, it’s a good time to reflect on the big picture of preparing for retirement. Contributions to an RRSP are very important, but they’re not the only way in which we plan for the future. Expenditures on CPP and private pensions are also significant—and spending in the Prairies leads the way.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: An up-and-down year for Canada's GDP

    It started out well, then went into reverse: a strong rally in the summer, but weakness by the late fall. Canada’s economy was growing in fits and starts in 2011, and ended on a bit of a soft note.
  • U.S. factory output stalls

    Aside from the jobs and housing market, one of the most anticipated economic indicators south of the border is in manufacturing. The industrial heartland of the US Midwest has been ravaged by the downturn, and new information released this morning suggests that it’s still going to be a long, tough climb higher.
  • Investment intentions rising

    Investment intentions are ramping up across the country—with private investment leading the way—which is a very good sign that the economy might be stronger in 2012 than expected. This surge will help offset some of the drag on growth we might expect from governments trying to move their budgets back into black.
  • Feeling the pain at the pump?

    Retail gas prices outside of Alberta are now beginning to creep back up to pre-recession levels. While provincial differentials in the price of gas have always existed to some extent, the emerging gap between what Albertans pay and what drivers in the rest of Canada pay is unprecedented.
  • Rents on the Rise?

    Apartment rents have remained fairly steady over the past few years, but with another economic boom underway in Alberta, that could change.
  • Farm deliveries in January

    The business of farming on the Canadian prairies often comes down to a game of timing: when to plant, when to harvest, and when to sell. Alberta farmers had quite a good year in 2011, and with the abundant crop yield in the autumn, many of them have been holding on to inventories throughout the winter, taking advantage of good prices.
  • Earnings outpace inflation

    Alberta continues to be the place to be for job seekers in Canada. And not only are jobs more plentiful, they pay (on average) the most and are rising more quickly than the Canadian average.
  • Foreigners extending Canada credit

    Every time Bank of Canada Governor Marc Carney steps in front of a microphone, he reminds Canadians how important it is to borrow prudently, and with good reason. Getting less attention to date is the fact that a good chunk of the borrowing (household and government) is only made possible thanks to foreigners extending us credit.
  • Alberta retailers keeping busy

    Shoppers were out in December, but they weren’t out in full force. Retail sales for December turned out to be underwhelming and is further evidence that the economy might be slowing. Also reinforced in the retail sales numbers for December was the regional gap that continues to widen.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Inflation steady in Alberta

    The latest survey of prices from Statistics Canada shows that, overall, shoppers are seeing only modest price inflation at the beginning of 2011.
  • Manufacturing simmers down

    Refineries and factory floors throughout Alberta really ramped up production last year. But by the time December 2011 rolled around, it appears that some of them were ready for a bit of a break.
  • Housing: A tale of two countries

    The American housing market was ground zero for the great recession, meanwhile the Canadian housing market helped steer the Canadian economy through the worst of it. Today, the two real-estate markets again appear to be pointed in starkly different directions.
  • Love affair with autos cools

    Today may be St. Valentine’s Day, but at least one love affair seems to be cooling down a bit. The enthusiasm with which Albertans snapped up new motor vehicles slumped towards the end of 2011.
  • Wheat inventories hit record high

    After years of talking about record world food prices, it might come as a surprise that wheat stocks are now estimated to be at all time highs. A couple years ago, drought in Eastern Europe severely limited the grain harvest; but since then, it certainly looks like silos have been more than replenished.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Back to black by next year

    The global downturn and precipitous drop in natural gas prices turned Alberta’s fiscal picture on its head a few years ago. After a string of strong surpluses, the provincial government was hurdled into a deficit position in the 2008-09 fiscal year—and deficits have persisted ever since.
  • New home prices steady

    Analysts of Alberta’s residential real estate market might be verging on a bit of boredom lately. For over two years, the ticket price for newly built homes has remained basically unchanged in both of Alberta’s two largest cities.
  • Alberta's surging population

    The 2011 Census confirmed what most people already knew: Alberta’s population is growing at almost twice the national rate. Ontarians should rest assured of their dominant place in confederacy because even at current growth rates it would take well over 150 years before Alberta is the most populace province.
  • Condos for Ontario, warehouses for Alberta

    While the condo boom is alive and kicking in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), in Alberta the love affair with little boxes in the sky has yet to be rekindled since the recession hit. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially given the amount of concern being raised about what is driving condo activity in Canada’s largest city.
  • Participation in the workforce

    This past week, the Labour Force Survey showed that Alberta continues to have the strongest job market in the country. But the degree to which Albertans participate in the workforce varies—especially among the five mid-sized cities across the province.
  • The East-West economic cleavage deepens

    Perhaps the news that the national unemployment rate ticked up in January shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Public officials have been warning for some time that the economy is slowing down, but seeing it confirmed in statistical releases is nonetheless disconcerting.
  • American manufacturing making a comeback

    After more than a half year of pessimistic outlooks for the world’s economy, it’s time to remind ourselves that all is not bad with the state of the world. Impending doom and gloom in Europe has monopolized the headlines lately, but news on American manufacturing has been surprisingly good of late.
  • Demographics and housing demand: Pulling against gravity

    The past decade was certainly a golden one for Alberta’s housing market. Low interest rates, easier credit, strong net migration, and impressive employment growth all worked together to fuel the market. Expecting a second golden decade so close after the first is foolhardy though, as there are some important headwinds coming.
  • GDP numbers for November send shivers

    The Canadian economy unexpectedly contracted slightly in November by 0.1%, which comes as a bit of a surprise. Given the state of the world, the consensus opinion was that the economy was slowing, but a contraction wasn’t seen as likely.
  • Commercial real estate on fire in 2011

    There were a lot of doomsday predictions for Alberta’s office markets back in 2009, particularly in Calgary where towers were sprouting up left, right and center. However, much to the chagrin of doomsayers, Alberta’s downtown office markets finished 2011 in remarkable shape.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Ont. loses ground in earnings race

    Prior to 2004 Ontario had the highest average weekly wages of any province in Canada, at which time it was overtaken by Alberta. Fast forward to November 2011 and average wages in Ontario are in fourth place, behind up-and-comers Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Fed funds at 0% until late 2014

    The US Federal Funds rate has been at a band of between 0% and 0.25% since late 2008, and according to  a press release made by  the US Central Bank  yesterday,  it is projected to remain there for nearly three more years.
  • The Alberta Advantage: Housing affordability (really?!)

    The Roughriders might have been the only thing in Saskatchewan to not have a banner year in 2011. In fact, the economy has been so hot in the province that housing prices are causing affordability issues, with Saskatoon being less affordable than both Calgary and Edmonton.
  • Shoppers out in full force in November

    Shoppers in Alberta spent $5.64 billion (seasonally adjusted) at retail outlets in November, a rise of 1.0% from October and up 8.3% from a year ago. November’s surge marks the fourth consecutive monthly gain for retail sales in Alberta and the fourth month in a row sales growth has also outpaced the national rate.
  • Farm product prices climb in 2011

    General consumer inflation in Alberta eased a bit towards the end of the year, yet 2011 was marked by rising prices for gasoline and food. Fortunately for agricultural producers in this province, the prices they received for their output also made steady gains.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Prices dip in December

    Everyone loves paying less for things, especially during the holiday season. And according to inflation numbers released this morning, that’s exactly what happened in December. Inflation, US housing starts, the global GDP forecast & more in the Weekly.
  • Manufacturing rides the $100 oil highway

    Across North America, a nascent recovery in manufacturing is raising some hopes of the general economy returning to health. Factory floors and refineries in Alberta were doing more than their part to boost shipments towards the end of last year.
  • Non-residential construction perks up in Q4

    Much of the time, statistics and analysis of the construction sector focus on residential housing starts. But once a quarter, Statistics Canada provides an update on what’s happening in the other side of the industry: non-residential construction.
  • More of the same from the Bank of Canada

    Consumers and businesses in Canada have benefitted greatly from very low interest rates since the economy took a tumble in late 2008. And according to the Bank of Canada’s (BoC) first rate announcement of 2012, rates are remaining near rock-bottom lows.
  • Albertans driving vehicle sales in Canada

    Car lot owners have been amongst the biggest beneficiaries of the rebounding Albertan economy. The most recent data on new vehicle sales in Alberta might show a slight monthly dip, but the trend over the past year puts sales near pre-recession levels.
  • Weekly Economic Bulletin: Alberta's trade with the world

    Global trade among the world’s major economies is still recovering from the downturn a few years ago, and Alberta is no exception. Alberta's exports, US retail sales, the 2012 crop price forecast, and more in this Weekly Economic Bulletin.
  • Natural gas prices slump further

    With so much focus lately on oil sands projects and bitumen pipelines, it is easy to forget that other pillar of Alberta’s energy sector: natural gas. Prices have been soft for the past two years, but lately things have been going from bad to worse.
  • Bankruptcies continue their descent

    Filing for bankruptcy can be one of the most difficult decisions people are forced to make. And fortunately, as of the most recent reading, consumer bankruptcies in Alberta were at a more than three year low.
  • Housing starts go for a strong finish

    Almost all the Alberta economic indicators were on the uptrend in 2011 with one of the few exceptions being housing starts. But while the number of homes being built remained subdued, it was at least moving in the right direction towards year end.
  • Canadian businesses less optimistic

    Much economic insight can be gained simply by going out and asking companies what they’re experiencing. And according to one survey, Canadian firms are less optimistic.
Todd Hirsch Read more


Nick Ford Read more