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The Owl focuses on the day’s top economic news.

ATB Financial’s economics team interprets the latest statistics on wages, employment, inflation, the oil and gas industry and other economic drivers in our province.

Manufacturing finding its mojo

Posted on: May 17, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

Alberta’s manufacturing industry flexed some muscle in March. The most recent manufacturing report shows that total shipments grew to over $5.8 billion, an increase of nearly two per cent from February. March was the third consecutive month where manufacturing shipments have increased in Alberta. The last time sales reached this level was in July 2015.

The cause of growth was the mighty food processing subsector. In March, shipments from food manufacturers increased 3.9 per cent from February to $1.2 billion. Over the last couple of years, food manufacturing has taken off in our province. Part of what has stimulated growth in the food processing industry has been a budding food and beverage scene and changing preferences of consumers. Generally speaking, more Albertans are becoming interested in locally-produced food. There is also an increasing demand for Canadian products overseas.

But, food isn’t the only reason why manufacturing rose in March. There were also strong advances made in other sectors too. Sales from Alberta’s computer and electronic manufacturers grew 11.5 per cent, paper manufacturing also grew 6.7 per cent from February and sales fabricated metal products increased nearly five per cent.

After two tough years, the latest manufacturing report shows that manufacturing is starting to get its mojo back. The majority of manufacturing’s subsectors are now well above where they were a year ago. As economic conditions improve and as manufacturing continues to progress, the low loonie will also help keep Alberta’s goods competitive and help manufacturing as a whole.Alberta manufacturing shipments, graphab-manufacturing-may2017.PNG

Alberta Economic Outlook

ATB Financial’s Alberta Economic Outlook summarizes research on Alberta’s most important sectors, covering the first quarter of 2015. It analyzes the province’s economic happenings and outlines what may occur in the next quarter. Read the Outlooks below for the latest on our economy.

Q1 2015 | Q2 2015

Manufacturing in Alberta Part 1: The best performers

Posted on: May 23, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Alberta’s manufacturing sector has been through the ringer over the recession. From the peak of activity in the summer of 2014 to the lowest point in February of last year, the value of total manufacturing shipments in our province plunged 27 per cent.

Retail sales pause in March

Posted on: May 19, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
After a post-recession surge of spending in the second half of last year, Alberta shoppers took a break in March. According to the latest information from Statistics Canada, retail sales topped $6.63 billion that month.

Growth to pick up in 2017

Posted on: May 18, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Today, ATB Financial is releasing its latest Alberta Economic Outlook, providing insight into what may happen in the months ahead.

Single-owner farms still most common in Alberta

Posted on: May 16, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Old MacDonald had a farm—and if he lived in Alberta, he’d probably be the single owner and operator of it, too. That, according to the latest Census of Agriculture, is still the most common form of farm operating arrangement in our province.

Alberta’s specialty farms

Posted on: May 15, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Alberta’s agriculture sector is dominated by the big three types of operations: wheat, canola and beef. Of the more than 40,600 farms in the latest Census of Agriculture, roughly two-thirds are grains and oilseeds and cattle ranching operations.

What's going on with oil prices?

Posted on: May 12, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
Oil prices did show stability over the first couple months of the year. But recently the North American benchmark price of oil (West Texas Intermediate) has fallen to around $US 47.

More new houses but will they sell?

Posted on: May 11, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team
After two years of recession, it’s nice to see some economic indicators starting to signal strength. One of those indicators is housing starts.



Each Perch focuses on a topic that’s important to Alberta​ns.

While many of us can probably cite the daily price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude, there is room to improve our understanding of just how much oil we have, how much we produce and who buys it. This edition of Perch presents a handy set of answers to these questions.

So sit back and enjoy. ​

Read Perch now

The Economic Team​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ (Left to right: Nick Ford, Todd Hirsch and Rob Roach)

Our Economics Team​​​


Todd Hirsch

Chief Economist

Todd Hirsch is the Chief Economist at ATB Financial. At ATB, Todd spends the bulk of his time sharing the story of Alberta’s economy in clear-eyed and energetic talks across the province and the rest of the country.

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Nick Ford


Nick Ford is an Economist at ATB Financial. Nick joined ATB’s Economics and Research team in February 2014 where he researches, tracks and reports on economic indicators and trends that impact Albertans.

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Rob Roach

Director of Insight

As a Director of Insight with ATB Financial’s Economics and Research team, Rob examines the economic and social forces that affect Albertans’ quality of life.

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ATB’s Extended Reports​

Black gold

Alberta's oil resources

Read the report.

Tightening Santa's belt

Holiday spending and travel intentions (December 2016)

Read the report.

Preparing for success

Post-secondary education in Alberta (September 2016)

Read the report.

Selling our wares

Alberta's international exports (May 2016)

Read the report.

Happiness in Alberta

The full results of ATB Financial’s Alberta Happiness Survey (June 2015)

Read the report.

Hanging out your shingle

Self-employment in Alberta (November 2015)

Read the report.

People power

Population trends in Alberta (March 2016)

Read the report.

The Owl

The latest developments in business and economics from a unique Albertan perspective.

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