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The Owl Archives

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.


It's never fun to gas-up, especially now
July 20, 2018

It's never fun to gas-up, especially now

In some parts of our province, gasoline prices are fetching $1.40 per litre. For some drivers, refuelling their cars and trucks has never been more expensive.

Construction spending continues to cool
July 19, 2018

Construction spending continues to cool

Alberta spent $2.36 billion on commercial, industrial and institutional construction projects from April to the end of June, reflecting a nearly $64 million drop from the first quarter.

The value of education
July 18, 2018

The value of education

How do Albertans perceive the value of going to university versus going to college or learning a trade? We asked them, and this is what they shared.

Manufacturing shipments reach highest level since 2014
July 17, 2018

Manufacturing shipments reach highest level since 2014

In another sign that the 2015-16 recession is behind us, shipments of manufactured goods from Alberta reached the highest total in about three and a half years.

Job vacancy rates in Alberta
July 16, 2018

Job vacancy rates in Alberta

In the first quarter of this year, 2.6 per cent of the jobs in the province were waiting for a qualified candidate. That compares with 2.0 per cent at the beginning of 2016 and 2.2 per cent at the beginning of 2017.

Lumber prices smashing records
July 13, 2018

Lumber prices smashing records

In July, the composite price of framing lumber in North America hit US$564 per thousand board feet. That’s the highest price on record and more than double the price at the start of the decade.

Housing starts held steady in first half of 2018
July 12, 2018

Housing starts held steady in first half of 2018

Housing starts were stable in the first half of 2018. The average between January and June was just under 28,000 homes (annualized rate)—almost the same average seen over the last 3 years, which included 2 years of recession.

Albertans’ online spending habits: Part Two
July 11, 2018

Albertans’ online spending habits: Part Two

Online book stores were the most popular place to spend money online in the last year. The share of people who made a purchase on Amazon was virtually equal between the groups aged 25 to 34 (50 per cent) and 35 to 44 (51 per cent).

Albertans’ online spending habits: Part One
July 10, 2018

Albertans’ online spending habits: Part One

According to the polling firm Numeris, 76 per cent of Calgarians over the age of 18 made a purchase online in the past year. In Alberta’s capital city, only 68 per cent of people aged 18 or over opted to buy something this way.

Private sector driving Alberta's job creation
July 09, 2018

Private sector driving Alberta's job creation

The top four sectors—construction, oil and gas, professional and scientific positions, and manufacturing—accounted for 44,500 new jobs. Jobs in the public sector accounted for a gain of only 5,700 jobs.

Employment stable in June
July 06, 2018

Employment stable in June

Alberta saw the creation of some 2,000 new jobs in June, adding to the nearly 3,000 positions created in May.

Oil production and prices ramping up
July 05, 2018

Oil production and prices ramping up

Last month, OPEC and cooperating non-OPEC countries, like Russia, agreed to raise production for the first time since late-2016.

It's the Fourth of July​
July 04, 2018

It's the Fourth of July​

Today's Owl focuses on our American friends and their impact on our economy, particularly when it comes to tourism.

Restaurant receipts stable, but challenges persist
July 03, 2018

Restaurant receipts stable, but challenges persist

Restaurants and bars are an important contributor to our economy. And while receipts are holding steady, success is not always on the menu for Alberta’s restaurateurs.

New vehicle sales put on the brakes
June 29, 2018

New vehicle sales put on the brakes

According to Statistics Canada, the number of vehicles sold in Alberta in April was up about six per cent from March. Total sales reached $1.0 billion and amounted to 22,417 vehicles.

Earnings hold steady for Alberta employees
June 28, 2018

Earnings hold steady for Alberta employees

Average weekly earnings in this province topped $1,153 in April, unchanged from May and up 2.4 per cent from a year ago. Earnings are also up 4.6 per cent from May 2016, which was the lowest point during the recession.

Albertans enjoy a wide range of tourist attractions
June 27, 2018

Albertans enjoy a wide range of tourist attractions

To get a better sense of what Albertans like to do while at home in the province we asked ATB customers to tell us. Here's what they said.

EI numbers continue descent
June 26, 2018

EI numbers continue descent

According to Statistics Canada, the decline continued to be strongest in our cities. In Edmonton, the number of recipients fell 7.3 per cent, in Calgary the number slid 3.5 per cent.

Energy prices are volatile, but are they rising more quickly than general inflation?
June 25, 2018

Energy prices are volatile, but are they rising more quickly than general inflation?

Are energy prices rising more quickly than overall prices? The Owl takes a look.

Spending up, but consumers cautious
June 22, 2018

Spending up, but consumers cautious

Alberta retail sales rose to $6.79 billion in April (adjusted for seasonality). Over the last complete twelve months, total retail spending in Alberta is up 5.7 per cent compared to the previous 12-month period.

Indigenous employment up, but challenges remain
June 21, 2018

Indigenous employment up, but challenges remain

Employment growth among Indigenous Albertans grew by 36 per cent between 2007 and 2017, outpacing the 14 per cent growth in employment seen among the non-Indigenous population during the same time frame.

Alberta’s population trends Part 2: Interprovincial migration
June 20, 2018

Alberta’s population trends Part 2: Interprovincial migration

While Alberta has typically been the recipient of interprovincial migration, it does experience occasional periods of net outflow.

Alberta’s population trends Part 1: Fewer non-residents in Alberta
June 19, 2018

Alberta’s population trends Part 1: Fewer non-residents in Alberta

During the recession, Alberta experienced net interprovincial out-migration of workers to other parts of Canada. But it wasn’t only Canadian citizens leaving.

Manufacturing shipments tumble
June 18, 2018

Manufacturing shipments tumble

With the recent aluminum tariffs placed on imports by the US government, brewers in the US are expecting to pay a lot more for aluminum cans.

Alberta’s exposure to tariffs, part 3
June 15, 2018

Alberta’s exposure to tariffs, part 3

The Owl is taking a deeper look into Alberta's trade relationship with the US. We asked ATB's team that researches and writes Perch to help. The following is the final edition of a three-part series, a petite version of Perch.

Alberta’s exposure to tariffs, part 2
June 14, 2018

Alberta’s exposure to tariffs, part 2

The Owl is taking a deeper look into Alberta's trade relationship with the US. We asked ATB's team that researches and writes Perch to help. The following is the second of a three-part series, a petite version of Perch.

Alberta’s exposure to tariffs, part 1
June 13, 2018

Alberta’s exposure to tariffs, part 1

The Owl is taking a deeper look into Alberta's trade relationship with the US. We asked ATB's team that researches and writes Perch to help. The following is the first of a three-part series, a petite version of Perch.

Sports tourism in Canada
June 12, 2018

Sports tourism in Canada

With the 2018 FIFA World Cup starting this week, The Owl is turning its attention to tourist spending on sports in Canada.

May's new housing numbers a surprise
June 11, 2018

May's new housing numbers a surprise

Rising levels of vacant housing in Alberta’s main cities and stricter mortgage lending rules are doing little to slow new housing construction in our province.

Jobs edge slightly higher in May
June 08, 2018

Jobs edge slightly higher in May

Alberta’s employment picture continues to improve, albeit at a rate many would still describe as frustratingly slow.

Canada’s oil and gas extraction sector compared to the auto sector
June 07, 2018

Canada’s oil and gas extraction sector compared to the auto sector

Oil and gas extraction is the larger of the two industries. By a lot.

Construction projects set to slow
June 06, 2018

Construction projects set to slow

The latest building permit data indicate that Alberta’s construction sector will slow as the year progresses.

Farming profitability up last year
June 05, 2018

Farming profitability up last year

The Owl takes a peek at operating costs on the farm including how expenses associated with farming have risen over time and how profitable agriculture has been lately.

Crops back on top!
June 04, 2018

Crops back on top!

According to new data from Statistics Canada, total farm cash receipts in Alberta topped $14.1 billion last year–a record high.

Oil production in Alberta is up
June 01, 2018

Oil production in Alberta is up

With all of the news on oil and pipelines this week, its timely for The Owl to examine what’s happening to oil extraction in our province.

The wage gap between Alberta and Canada
May 31, 2018

The wage gap between Alberta and Canada

Albertans have long enjoyed higher pay cheques than Canadians in other provinces. But the recession narrowed that gap—and that smaller gap appears to be sticking around.

Alberta’s economy in a league of its own in Canada
May 30, 2018

Alberta’s economy in a league of its own in Canada

Alberta’s economic output–in good times and bad–is simply in a different league than the other provinces.

Keeping up with Alberta’s growing population
May 29, 2018

Keeping up with Alberta’s growing population

Even though Alberta’s GDP started to grow again in 2017 (and will continue to do so in 2018), the hangover created by the recession of 2015-16 is still being felt by many Albertans.

Albertans second highest spenders in the country at restaurant and bars
May 28, 2018

Albertans second highest spenders in the country at restaurant and bars

Restaurateurs and pub owners are welcoming patrons back after what has been a tough few years.

Alberta seeing fewer EI claimants
May 25, 2018

Alberta seeing fewer EI claimants

The number of Albertan beneficiaries has been on the decline for five consecutive months and March was no different. That month saw a two per cent drop in claims over February, representing 1,480 people.

Construction prices stabilizing in Alberta
May 24, 2018

Construction prices stabilizing in Alberta

The economic boom of 2006-07 more than doubled construction costs, but the recession of 2009-10 brought them back down. Prices rose more gradually during 2012-14, then fell modestly through 2015-16.

Wholesale activity still strong but could signal weakness in retail sector
May 23, 2018

Wholesale activity still strong but could signal weakness in retail sector

In March, the total sales of products to businesses, institutions and governments, reached $6.7 billion. March’s total meant that sales were up 5.6 per cent from the same month a year earlier.

ATB's Alberta Economic Outlook: Provincial economy improving but at a more moderate pace
May 22, 2018

ATB's Alberta Economic Outlook: Provincial economy improving but at a more moderate pace

Alberta’s economy is once again expanding with most major economic indicators moving in the right direction. ATB Financial releases its latest Alberta Economic Outlook today.

Natural gas: Alberta’s other economic engine
May 18, 2018

Natural gas: Alberta’s other economic engine

Oil pipelines, oil prices, oil sands – in short, oil gets a lot of attention in Alberta, and rightly so. But it wasn’t that long ago that the big game in town was natural gas.

Albertans spending less on alcohol and drinking less too
May 17, 2018

Albertans spending less on alcohol and drinking less too

For many Albertans, the May-long weekend is the first real chance to fire up the barbeque, pack our coolers full of our favourite wine and beer and (hopefully) soak up the sun.

Manufacturing to help sustain economic growth this year
May 16, 2018

Manufacturing to help sustain economic growth this year

The sale of manufactured goods in Alberta continues to improve and help fuel economic growth in the province.

Natural disasters impact home renovations
May 15, 2018

Natural disasters impact home renovations

At two points, we see Alberta spending on renovations jump noticeably above the rest of the country—and in each case, a natural disaster is a factor.

New vs. used vehicles? The economy will decide
May 14, 2018

New vs. used vehicles? The economy will decide

The recession didn’t stop us from buying cars and trucks altogether—we just altered what kind of vehicles we bought.

Good quality jobs starting to return to Alberta
May 11, 2018

Good quality jobs starting to return to Alberta

Albertans looking for work may still be having a challenge. But the latest snapshot of the jobs market may be pointing towards an encouraging trend.

US decision on Iran could keep oil prices higher
May 10, 2018

US decision on Iran could keep oil prices higher

The US decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal rippled through oil markets this week. The Owl considers how this will affect oil prices going forward.

Building intentions tick higher
May 09, 2018

Building intentions tick higher

The value of total building permits in Alberta climbed to $1.31 billion in March, an increase of more than nine per cent compared to March of last year.

A shortage of young workers is brewing in Alberta's service sector
May 08, 2018

A shortage of young workers is brewing in Alberta's service sector

The food and accommodation industry has long relied on a ready supply of young people willing to work for lower wages in exchange for valuable job and life experience. In Alberta, this is changing.

Who’s the new King of the Road in Alberta?
May 07, 2018

Who’s the new King of the Road in Alberta?

Step aside pick-up trucks! You’re no longer the favourite type of vehicle in Alberta - although you still come pretty close.

Two billion pounds of spuds!
May 04, 2018

Two billion pounds of spuds!

Last year, total potato production in Alberta reached a record 20,500 hundredweight—or just over two billion pounds.

Alberta has the highest participation rate in Canada
May 03, 2018

Alberta has the highest participation rate in Canada

Alberta has had the highest participation rate of any province every year since at least 1976.

Alberta’s role as a job-creating powerhouse
May 02, 2018

Alberta’s role as a job-creating powerhouse

We're releasing the latest Perch today! This edition explores some of the key features of Alberta’s labour force. Among these is a long history of above-average job creation.

Alberta cannabis consumption some of the highest in Canada
May 01, 2018

Alberta cannabis consumption some of the highest in Canada

Cannabis consumption varies across the provinces. In Alberta, consumption is some of the highest in the country.

Is a housing overbuild forming?
April 30, 2018

Is a housing overbuild forming?

An increasing number of new houses are sitting vacant in Alberta’s major cities suggesting that an overbuild of new housing is forming in the province.

Working trends by sector in Alberta, Part II
April 27, 2018

Working trends by sector in Alberta, Part II

The Owl looked at how workers in some sectors put in much longer hours than others in yesterday's edition. But that’s not the only measurement that varies: growth in the size of the paycheque differs even more.

Working trends by sector in Alberta, Part I
April 26, 2018

Working trends by sector in Alberta, Part I

Albertans pride themselves in working hard for their paycheques—and even though finding work is still a challenge for thousands of people, those who have jobs are working some long hours.

Gasoline prices on the rise
April 25, 2018

Gasoline prices on the rise

While we seem to notice the increases more than the decreases, it’s generally true that gas prices have tended to outpace overall inflation.

Albertans spending slows at restaurants and bars
April 24, 2018

Albertans spending slows at restaurants and bars

Annual spending at restaurants and bars in our province has increased every year since 2010, even during the recession of 2015-16. But could the growth in the food and beverage sector be beginning to slow?

Wholesale activity still strong
April 23, 2018

Wholesale activity still strong

Sales of products to businesses, institutions and governments, also known as wholesale trade, continue to perform well in Alberta. Total sales reached $6.8 billion in February.

Retail sales holding their momentum for now
April 20, 2018

Retail sales holding their momentum for now

In February, Albertans outspent the average Canadian by an average of $213 per month. This emphasizes the strength of the provincial economy after a significant recessionary period. But this could change...

EI numbers show economic strength
April 19, 2018

EI numbers show economic strength

The province's unemployment rate fell from 8.2 per cent in February 2017, to 6.7 per cent in February of this year. At the same time, Alberta’s labour market gained close to 45,000 jobs.

Alberta imports support national service economy
April 18, 2018

Alberta imports support national service economy

Alberta’s main interprovincial exports are mineral fuels and refined petroleum products. Combined, these categories accounted for 35.9 per cent of Alberta’s domestic exports in 2014.

Alberta key customer for other provinces
April 17, 2018

Alberta key customer for other provinces

Alberta may be a major supplier of goods and services to other provinces, but it's also a great customer.

Lumber prices hit record high
April 16, 2018

Lumber prices hit record high

North American framing lumber prices smashed through US$500 per thousand board feet last month, according to a U.S. forest industry association. That's a record high.

Job vacancy rates in Alberta
April 13, 2018

Job vacancy rates in Alberta

The latest snapshot of the Job Vacancies report suggests that slightly more jobs are going unfilled in Alberta compared to a year earlier.

Alberta housing starts near the Canadian average
April 12, 2018

Alberta housing starts near the Canadian average

Housing starts in 2018 are stable but have not returned to their pre-recession levels.

Population growth unevenly spread across Alberta communities
April 11, 2018

Population growth unevenly spread across Alberta communities

Alberta's population grew by a respectable 4.3 per cent between 2014 and 2017. But our overall growth masks some big differences within the province.

Alberta’s exports to China
April 10, 2018

Alberta’s exports to China

With a trade war brewing between the United States and China, it’s useful to take a look at Alberta’s exports into the Chinese market.

Production is up in Alberta’s agricultural sector
April 09, 2018

Production is up in Alberta’s agricultural sector

In 1997, there were 88,900 Albertans whose main job was farming or ranching. By 2016, this was down to 50,800–a drop of 43 per cent.

Slow but steady improvements in the job market
April 06, 2018

Slow but steady improvements in the job market

It may not be the bonanza of new jobs that a lot of Albertans had become used to in the first half of the decade, but the employment situation in our province continues to improve gradually.

Vehicle sales revving at the start of 2018
April 05, 2018

Vehicle sales revving at the start of 2018

One of the best ways to tell if the economy is growing or in a recession is by tracking new vehicle sales. In Alberta, car and truck sales confirm that an economic expansion is forming.

Oil prices warming up
April 04, 2018

Oil prices warming up

With temperatures still below zero and plenty of snow on the ground, it may feel like it's not heating up, right? The good news is that it is, at least when it comes to oil prices.

Will business bankruptcies continue to rise?
April 03, 2018

Will business bankruptcies continue to rise?

A few weeks ago, The Owl explored how consumer bankruptcies and proposals are rising in Alberta. But what about businesses? How are they managing in the post-recession?

In-migration to Alberta from neighbouring provinces
April 02, 2018

In-migration to Alberta from neighbouring provinces

Siblings are often famous for their rivalries--and for Alberta, there’s been no shortage of rivalries with our sister provinces to the west and east.

Average weekly earnings in Alberta Part II
March 29, 2018

Average weekly earnings in Alberta Part II

Yesterday, The Owl explored how average weekly earnings of employees in Alberta have trended higher over the last year. But not all pay cheques are created equally. Within that growth, there is a wide disparity of earnings across sectors.

Average weekly earnings in Alberta
March 28, 2018

Average weekly earnings in Alberta

Employees in Alberta earned an average of $1,147 per week in January. This is unchanged from the previous month but a gain of 3.1 per cent from January of last year.

Don't fear the robots
March 27, 2018

Don't fear the robots

Many would think the rise of automated checkouts and online shopping would affect retail employment but, since 2000, employment has increased in Alberta by nearly 86,000 positions (+34 per cent).

Restaurant and bar spending up but also down
March 26, 2018

Restaurant and bar spending up but also down

One of the ways we take the pulse of Alberta's economy is by looking at how much Albertans are spending at restaurants and bars.

Retail sales start 2018 on a record high
March 23, 2018

Retail sales start 2018 on a record high

Albertans’ debit and credit cards were a bit busier in January as retail sales reached a record high in the province. Compared to the beginning of 2017, sales were 2.1 per cent higher at the start of 2018.

Consumer proposals on the rise
March 22, 2018

Consumer proposals on the rise

One of the most telling signs of economic hardship in Alberta is the pressure it puts on household finances, particularly borrowing. To be sure, credit can be used effectively and wisely. But at times consumers find themselves stretched to the limit.

Energy rebound at the root of business optimism
March 21, 2018

Energy rebound at the root of business optimism

The Owl is taking the time this week to share some of the results from ATB Financial's latest Business Beat survey. Today’s edition breaks down the economic and business optimism levels by industry.

Alberta businesses more optimistic about provincial economy
March 20, 2018

Alberta businesses more optimistic about provincial economy

ATB’s Business Beat survey asked small and medium-sized Alberta businesses in January and February how they felt the economy would be doing in six months and found out they're thinking positively.

Manufacturing finds its groove
March 19, 2018

Manufacturing finds its groove

For the first time in a little more than three years, sales from Alberta factories and shop floors have reached pre-recession highs.

It’s taking longer to find work in Alberta
March 16, 2018

It’s taking longer to find work in Alberta

The average number of weeks Albertans were unemployed last year was the highest it has been since at least 1976.

Alberta incomes fall fastest in all of Canada
March 15, 2018

Alberta incomes fall fastest in all of Canada

Employment income for working Albertans fell 8.8 per cent in 2016, and totalled $51,700. The median employment income reached $39,400, a 4.4 per cent reduction from a year earlier.

Refining utilization rates back to 12-year highs
March 14, 2018

Refining utilization rates back to 12-year highs

Recently, refining utilization rates have risen back to 12-year highs. Part of this is because of the difficulty Canadian oil exporters are having in shipping product to refineries in the U.S.

Energy sector capacity utilization rates on the rise
March 13, 2018

Energy sector capacity utilization rates on the rise

Economists are well-known for their esoteric and academic sounding terminology. One of the wonkier terms is a popular indicator called the “capacity utilization rate.” Despite what its name would suggest, the indicator is remarkably simple.

Housing starts drifting lower
March 12, 2018

Housing starts drifting lower

Alberta’s home builders had a good year in 2017, but at the end of last year, home builders pulled back. Now, at the start of 2018, the pace of building appears to be trending lower.

Job numbers show recovery isn't so easy
March 09, 2018

Job numbers show recovery isn't so easy

February’s job report shows Alberta gained 2,300 net new jobs. At first glance, this looks positive, but diving deeper into the data, the news is less encouraging.

Expect a construction slowdown in 2018
March 08, 2018

Expect a construction slowdown in 2018

After impressing for much of 2017 and actually growing year-over-year in January (+5.3 per cent), residential housing intentions fell 10.7 per cent ($82-million) from last December.

Albertans still wary of state of economy
March 07, 2018

Albertans still wary of state of economy

As of January 2018, only eight per cent of respondents put the provincial economy on the very good end of the scale (a rating of eight or higher on a scale of zero to ten).

Consumer bankruptcies begin to fall again
March 06, 2018

Consumer bankruptcies begin to fall again

Compared to the previous December, when bankruptcies reached 401, the number of personal bankruptcies in Alberta is down by a little more than 13 per cent.

Capital spending in Alberta lowest since 2009
March 05, 2018

Capital spending in Alberta lowest since 2009

Compared to their peak in 2014 ($97.8 billion), capital expenditures in Alberta will be down by 45 per cent this year and by 22 per cent compared to the 10-year average (69.7 billion).

Women hold the majority of jobs in seven sectors
March 02, 2018

Women hold the majority of jobs in seven sectors

At 45.5 per cent, the proportion of jobs held by women is about four percentage points below the proportion of women in Alberta’s working age population.

Alberta restaurants end the year strong
March 01, 2018

Alberta restaurants end the year strong

During the final month of last year, Albertans spent $789 million at restaurants and bars across the province, the highest total on record.

Lumber prices stay strong amid tough trade talks
February 28, 2018

Lumber prices stay strong amid tough trade talks

Canadian forestry looked like it was in big trouble but, despite steep tariffs, recent lumber pricing suggests the the sector may be performing better than many expected.

Charitable donations of Albertans down during recession
February 27, 2018

Charitable donations of Albertans down during recession

Alberta tax filers donated $1.61 billion in 2015 compared to $1.44 billion in 2016 for a decline of 10.8 per cent.

Retail's 2017 performance broken down
February 26, 2018

Retail's 2017 performance broken down

Last year, retail sales in our province finished 7.5 per cent higher compared to 2016. With retail sales ending 2017 on such a positive note, today’s Owl looks at what types of retailers benefitted from Albertans’ spending.

Wages move into 2018 with momentum
February 23, 2018

Wages move into 2018 with momentum

Earnings among working Albertans have been trending up since last spring, a sign the economic recession is behind us.

Retail sales end 2017 on a high note
February 22, 2018

Retail sales end 2017 on a high note

Sales at Alberta retailers grew at 7.5 per cent in 2017, with the province's growth rate nearly one percentage point higher than the national average.

Number of Employment Insurance recipients holding steady
February 21, 2018

Number of Employment Insurance recipients holding steady

EI statistics are a tricky economic indicator because they are sensitive to the parameters of the EI program as well as the ups and downs of the economy.

Wholesale trade ends 2017 well
February 20, 2018

Wholesale trade ends 2017 well

The most recent wholesale trade numbers confirm that Alberta’s retail sector is starting the year on solid footing. That’s because last December, total wholesale activity in the province reached $6.8 billion, the third monthly increase in four months.

Manufacturing momentum continues
February 16, 2018

Manufacturing momentum continues

For six consecutive months, sales from Alberta factories and shop floors have continued to grow, suggesting that Alberta’s manufacturers are back to business.

Alberta’s economy continues to edge forward, but challenges linger; ATB’s Alberta Economic Outlook
February 15, 2018

Alberta’s economy continues to edge forward, but challenges linger; ATB’s Alberta Economic Outlook

All signs point to growth for Alberta’s economy in 2018. Still, challenges continue, with the unemployment rate stubbornly high and some businesses in the province struggling.

Valentine’s Day Edition: Mmmm chocolate
February 14, 2018

Valentine’s Day Edition: Mmmm chocolate

Whatever your feelings are about Valentine’s Day, it’s a good excuse to eat extra chocolate!

Unemployment rates vary by age Part II: Mature workers
February 13, 2018

Unemployment rates vary by age Part II: Mature workers

Mature workers have enjoyed an unemployment rate lower than the average. But during and after the recession, the jobless rate for mature workers has been more volatile.

Unemployment rates vary by age Part I: Young workers
February 12, 2018

Unemployment rates vary by age Part I: Young workers

Despite the recession having technically ended more than a year ago, many Albertans are still struggling to find work. That struggle is especially daunting for young workers.

Jobs shed in January, but full-time work roars ahead
February 09, 2018

Jobs shed in January, but full-time work roars ahead

The January labour market report shows the province lost 5,900 jobs in January, breaking the pattern of strong job growth set during the last three months of 2017.

More evidence of a residential construction slowdown
February 08, 2018

More evidence of a residential construction slowdown

Alberta’s housing sector has been a key driver for the construction industry, but that segment of the industry is set to slow this year.

Construction poised to slow in 2018
February 07, 2018

Construction poised to slow in 2018

Statistics Canada's final set of building permit data for 2017 points to a slowing construction sector in Alberta this year.

Alberta’s international exports up in 2017
February 06, 2018

Alberta’s international exports up in 2017

Foreign buyers continue to provide stability for Alberta's economy, offering markets for the $100 billion worth of oil, natural gas, beef, wheat, canola and other products the province has to sell.

Energy extraction has noticeable impact on Canada’s GDP
February 05, 2018

Energy extraction has noticeable impact on Canada’s GDP

Canada’s economy shot ahead in November of last year, according to the latest report from Statistics Canada. In that month, Canada’s economy was 3.5 per cent larger than it was in November of 2016.

The sweet taste of success
February 02, 2018

The sweet taste of success

Quebec may produce the most maple syrup in the country, but that’s not the only sweet and delicious liquid in town. Honey has become to Alberta what maple syrup is to la belle province!

More bitumen moving by rail
February 01, 2018

More bitumen moving by rail

The amount of bitumen moving by rail is back to near-record territory, another sign that Alberta’s oil sands producers are gradually recovering from the oil price meltdown of 2015 and 2016.

Cannabis use likely higher than stats suggest
January 31, 2018

Cannabis use likely higher than stats suggest

In anticipation of Canada’s legalization of cannabis this year, the country’s second largest cannabis producer is buying one of its rivals.

Retail sales stay close to record high
January 25, 2018

Retail sales stay close to record high

Albertans continued filling their shopping carts and grocery baskets in November, a trend that suggests the recession blues are in the past.

Restaurant receipts taken off the boil
January 24, 2018

Restaurant receipts taken off the boil

For two months in a row, restaurant receipts in Alberta have fallen. During November, Albertans spent $759 million at restaurants and bars across the province.

Personal bankruptcies sticky in their decline
January 23, 2018

Personal bankruptcies sticky in their decline

While many important economic indicators are pointing towards recovery, personal bankruptcies are lagging behind the trend.

Wholesale trade numbers point towards recovery
January 22, 2018

Wholesale trade numbers point towards recovery

The latest wholesale trade numbers confirm that Albertans and Alberta businesses continue to have faith in the province's economic recovery.

Manufacturing shipments reach highest level seen in 2017
January 19, 2018

Manufacturing shipments reach highest level seen in 2017

​​In November, sales from Alberta factory and shop floors reached the highest level seen in 2017. Total manufacturing shipments grew 1.2 per cent from October and reached $6.1 billion. Compared to one year earlier, shipments were up more than 10 per cent.

After 12 months of decline, EI numbers edge higher
January 18, 2018

After 12 months of decline, EI numbers edge higher

At the end of 2017, Alberta’s labour market had been making headway after two years of recession.

New vehicle sales bounce back in 2017
January 17, 2018

New vehicle sales bounce back in 2017

Consumer spending is always a great indicator of how the economy is performing, particularly since consumption drives such a large portion of the economy.

Non-residential construction slows at the end of ‘17
January 16, 2018

Non-residential construction slows at the end of ‘17

The sight of construction cranes have dotted Alberta’s horizon for years—and even heading into the recession, non-residential building continued to advance.

Oil prices start the year strong, but...
January 15, 2018

Oil prices start the year strong, but...

Alberta’s energy sector has started the year with mixed news.

The top three digital currencies to watch this year
January 11, 2018

The top three digital currencies to watch this year

It’s likely that in 2018 one of the top economics and business stories will continue to be cryptocurrencies.

Construction permits rise in November
January 10, 2018

Construction permits rise in November

One of the best forward-looking indicators available to economists is building permits issued by municipalities.

Housing construction pulls back at year-end
January 09, 2018

Housing construction pulls back at year-end

Home builders in Alberta had a good year in 2017, particularly given the fact that the economy was crawling out from under two years of recession.

2017 winners and losers in jobs
January 08, 2018

2017 winners and losers in jobs

Alberta job seekers are finally starting to see a bit of relief, and last year ended on a high note with over 26,000 new positions in December alone.

Interprovincial migration returns to Alberta
December 22, 2017

Interprovincial migration returns to Alberta

In perhaps the most convincing evidence that the recession is over, more people from the rest of the country are once again choosing to move to Alberta than those who are leaving.

More presents under the tree this year? Maybe!
December 21, 2017

More presents under the tree this year? Maybe!

It’s too early to tell if Albertans are spending more on Christmas presents this year, but new data suggests that some of us may have more gifts to unwrap.

Wages stall in October but rise well above last year's levels
December 20, 2017

Wages stall in October but rise well above last year's levels

Many working Albertans wouldn't have noticed any change in their bank accounts in October compared to September.

What’s the average food bill for Alberta families?
December 19, 2017

What’s the average food bill for Alberta families?

Yesterday, The Owl reported that about 13 per cent of household spending went to food last year. But what is the dollar value of that, and where are those dollars being spent?

How much do we pay for the essentials?
December 18, 2017

How much do we pay for the essentials?

There’s a belief in this province that the cost of living is much higher than elsewhere in the country. But is this true?

Who buys products made in Alberta?
December 15, 2017

Who buys products made in Alberta?

Alberta stands out among the provinces in terms of the proportion of its manufacturing output that is sold into the domestic market.

Made in Alberta: Manufacturing by subsector
December 14, 2017

Made in Alberta: Manufacturing by subsector

Even though Alberta’s manufacturers produce a wide range of products, about 80 per cent of what we make here is linked to our bounty of natural resources.

Manufacturing jobs coming back but still playing catch-up
December 13, 2017

Manufacturing jobs coming back but still playing catch-up

Alberta’s manufacturing sector was hit hard during the recent recession with annual sales falling by 21.4 per cent between 2014 and 2016.

A landmark for Bitcoin
December 12, 2017

A landmark for Bitcoin

The world’s most popular digital currency has made its world debut on futures markets.

New housing construction picks up in November
December 11, 2017

New housing construction picks up in November

New housing construction is a great gauge of economic confidence—few purchases are ever as big as a new home.

First jobs tough to get in Alberta last year
December 08, 2017

First jobs tough to get in Alberta last year

Entry-level employment is rarely glamorous or high paying, but those first jobs are critical for gaining valuable work experience.

Building permits reveal construction slowdown
December 07, 2017

Building permits reveal construction slowdown

New data reveals that Alberta’s construction is set to slow in 2018.

Alberta harvest mixed
December 06, 2017

Alberta harvest mixed

For the most part, Alberta performed better than many anticipated at the beginning of the year.

Bitcoin growing in value and importance
December 05, 2017

Bitcoin growing in value and importance

What is Bitcoin, how has it grown so much and what does it mean for the future of currency?

Aircraft movements at Alberta airports
December 04, 2017

Aircraft movements at Alberta airports

A look at monthly aircraft movements at Alberta’s three major airports, and what it means.

Wages up again in September
November 30, 2017

Wages up again in September

The fact that working Albertans had a little extra money in their pockets in September compared to August is another sign that the economic recovery is building momentum.

Census shows commuter culture shift
November 29, 2017

Census shows commuter culture shift

According to the 2016 Census, more Canadians find themselves making the drive to work.

Bankruptcies on the rise
November 28, 2017

Bankruptcies on the rise

The number of Albertans filing for bankruptcy is growing.

Canola still the king of the crops
November 27, 2017

Canola still the king of the crops

Despite the growing diversity within Alberta’s farm crops, one famous flowering farm staple remains well ahead of all others.

The changing face of mature workers in Alberta
November 22, 2017

The changing face of mature workers in Alberta

The participation rate for people aged 55 and above was 46.6 per cent in October, close to a record high.

Alberta's wholesale activity picks up the pace
November 21, 2017

Alberta's wholesale activity picks up the pace

The strength of Alberta’s wholesale sector continues to be supported by the province’s retail industries.

Alberta posts strong real GDP growth, still challenged by unemployment: ATB’s Alberta Economic Outlook
November 20, 2017

Alberta posts strong real GDP growth, still challenged by unemployment: ATB’s Alberta Economic Outlook

Alberta’s economy is gaining momentum, with oil and gas, agriculture, food processing, tourism, retail and manufacturing all experiencing growth.

Consumer prices still below Bank of Canada target
November 17, 2017

Consumer prices still below Bank of Canada target

The latest data shows that Alberta’s Consumer Price Index in October was marginally higher than September.

Down, but still on top: Incomes in Alberta
November 16, 2017

Down, but still on top: Incomes in Alberta

Alberta is home to 24 per cent of Canada’s highest earners

What are hotel prices doing? It depends who you are
November 15, 2017

What are hotel prices doing? It depends who you are

According to the latest data, some travellers in Alberta are seeing room rates rise, while others are seeing them fall.

Wages in Alberta Part II: Lowest paid workers earnings remain unchanged
November 14, 2017

Wages in Alberta Part II: Lowest paid workers earnings remain unchanged

Employees in Alberta’s food and accommodation sector are the lowest paid in the province.

Wages in Alberta: Part I Highest paid workers see earnings trimmed
November 13, 2017

Wages in Alberta: Part I Highest paid workers see earnings trimmed

Today's Owl examines wages of the highest paid workers in Alberta: those who work in oil and gas.

Housing starts keep strong pace
November 10, 2017

Housing starts keep strong pace

Oil prices are moving higher, retail sales continue to grow and demand for new housing has kept its rapid pace.

Building permits jump
November 09, 2017

Building permits jump

Even though building activity in Alberta’s non-residential sector has slowed, overall, activity has been stable.

Changes to 2016 GDP figure still show significant decline
November 08, 2017

Changes to 2016 GDP figure still show significant decline

The latest report from Stats Canada shows there was little change to its earlier GDP calculations.

Lentils and dry pea prices in Alberta
November 07, 2017

Lentils and dry pea prices in Alberta

Beyond cattle, wheat and canola—see the growth in lentils and dry peas, lesser-known but expanding crops.

How do western provinces stack up in job creation?
November 06, 2017

How do western provinces stack up in job creation?

There’s nothing like good old-fashioned sibling rivalry—especially among Canada’s children of Confederation, the provinces.

Jobs report surprises on the upside
November 03, 2017

Jobs report surprises on the upside

While Albertans are still digging into their Halloween candy, the real treat of the week may have come in October’s job report.

Edmonton home to Alberta's largest Indigenous population
November 02, 2017

Edmonton home to Alberta's largest Indigenous population

Alberta’s Indigenous population is younger and growing faster than the general population—which is good news for our labour market and retail sector.

Restaurant and bar receipts continue to impress
November 01, 2017

Restaurant and bar receipts continue to impress

The latest restaurant receipts data show that during that month of August, Albertans spent $771 million at restaurants and bars across the province

Housing starts set to slow in 2018
October 30, 2017

Housing starts set to slow in 2018

After surprising experts and analysts this year, housing starts in Calgary & Edmonton are forecast to be impacted in 2018.

Drilling activity to provide lift to economic growth
October 27, 2017

Drilling activity to provide lift to economic growth

The latest drilling data from the Alberta Energy Regulator shows that Alberta’s energy sector will be central to of the province’s return to growth.

Wage increases show momentum
October 26, 2017

Wage increases show momentum

After falling flat in July, wages crept higher in August.

Alberta's Indigenous population seeing growth
October 25, 2017

Alberta's Indigenous population seeing growth

Alberta is home to 15.5 per cent of the total Indigenous population in Canada.

Nonprofits working hard to keep up with demand
October 24, 2017

Nonprofits working hard to keep up with demand

As we pull out of the economic downturn, it is a good time to think about the important work done by our nonprofit sector.

Vehicle sales bouncing back
October 23, 2017

Vehicle sales bouncing back

Measuring vehicle sales per capita and comparing these to the rest of the country reveals an interesting trend.

Retail activity dips in August
October 20, 2017

Retail activity dips in August

After shaking off the recession blues in the spring of this year, shoppers in Alberta curbed their enthusiasm somewhat over the summer months.

Employment insurance numbers highlight labour market recovery
October 19, 2017

Employment insurance numbers highlight labour market recovery

One of the hardest hit segments of Alberta’s economy during the economic downturn was the province’s labour market. This year, however, employment has made some real strides.

Manufacturing helps Alberta's economic recovery
October 18, 2017

Manufacturing helps Alberta's economic recovery

After two months of declines, sales from Alberta factory floors were up 1.2 per cent to $5.8 billion in August.

Manufacturing and oil and gas jobs recovering, but slowly
October 17, 2017

Manufacturing and oil and gas jobs recovering, but slowly

Between 2014 and 2016, the average number of people employed in Alberta fell by 0.5 per cent.

Further indications of construction slowdown
October 16, 2017

Further indications of construction slowdown

New data on non-residential construction investment shows construction activity is slowing in the province.

Alberta's relatively young population helps it grow
October 13, 2017

Alberta's relatively young population helps it grow

Alberta was home to 11.7 per cent of Canadians last year but accounted for 27.3 per cent of the country’s natural increase.

International migration to Alberta remains strong
October 12, 2017

International migration to Alberta remains strong

Between January 2015 and June 2017, net migration to Alberta from other countries added 80,000 people to our population.

Oil extraction holds steady
October 11, 2017

Oil extraction holds steady

As the price of oil continues to hover around $US 50 per barrel, oil production levels in the province continue to hold steady too.

Total building permits glide higher
October 10, 2017

Total building permits glide higher

After two months of losses, building permits once again picked up the pace in August.

Alberta's job market backpedals
October 06, 2017

Alberta's job market backpedals

After showing some modest momentum in August, Alberta’s job market backpedalled in September.

The sharing economy continues to grow in Alberta
October 05, 2017

The sharing economy continues to grow in Alberta

While tourism in the province is booming, many Albertans may be starting to use the sharing economy to take advantage of tourism’s success.

Tourism set for solid 2017
October 04, 2017

Tourism set for solid 2017

So far, it’s been a busy year for our province’s tourism operators. As of June, air travel to Alberta had increased 3.3 per cent.

The changing landscape of farming in Alberta
October 03, 2017

The changing landscape of farming in Alberta

The number of farms in Alberta has been shrinking for some time. In 1996, there were 59,007 farms in the province compared to 40,638 last year.

A good time to thank our farmers
October 02, 2017

A good time to thank our farmers

With Thanksgiving only a week away, we can be thankful that Alberta’s agriculture and food manufacturing sectors have performed well during the recent economic downturn.

The love for restaurants and bars grows to new heights
September 29, 2017

The love for restaurants and bars grows to new heights

Alberta’s love affair with eating out appears to be unstoppable because once again, that love has resulted in another record.

Wages stall...again
September 28, 2017

Wages stall...again

After a modest increase in June, wages fell flat again in July. Average weekly earnings in Alberta dropped about one percentage point to $1,125 in July.

Alberta still losing people to other provinces
September 27, 2017

Alberta still losing people to other provinces

Annual interprovincial migration data released today by Statistics Canada show that 15,131 more people left Alberta for other parts of Canada than came here from another province or territory between July 2016 and July 2017.

The cost of eating Part II: Restaurant meals
September 26, 2017

The cost of eating Part II: Restaurant meals

The trend in price increases of restaurant meals has been much smoother than grocery prices because constantly adjusting prices on menus would be both costly and inconvenient.

The cost of eating Part I: Groceries
September 25, 2017

The cost of eating Part I: Groceries

Over the last 10 years, food prices have increased at a much faster rate than most other things we buy.

Despite modest pullback, retail sales remain strong
September 22, 2017

Despite modest pullback, retail sales remain strong

Summer is the time Albertans usually spend enjoying the great outdoors. But maybe the heat and smoky air this July had the opposite effect, driving shoppers into the malls, auto dealerships and big box stores.

Employment Insurance claims pause their decline
September 21, 2017

Employment Insurance claims pause their decline

After eight consecutive monthly losses, the number of employment insurance beneficiaries crept a little higher in July.

Non-residential construction intentions slide lower
September 20, 2017

Non-residential construction intentions slide lower

Certain sectors are still playing catch-up to the downturn that gripped the province over the last few years. Construction activity, is only now starting to show clearer signs of slowing in the coming months.

Monthly manufacturing sales slip again in July
September 19, 2017

Monthly manufacturing sales slip again in July

Yesterday’s sod-turning for a new $360-million frozen potato processing facility in Lethbridge is a shot in the arm for Alberta’s manufacturing sector.

Alberta oil production on the rise
September 18, 2017

Alberta oil production on the rise

Canadian oil output is expected to rise by close to 300,000 barrels per day this year and by another 200,000 barrels per day next year.

Amazon to Edmonton or Calgary?
September 15, 2017

Amazon to Edmonton or Calgary?

Amazon is a company that requires specific types of labour, that’s where both Edmonton and Calgary can offer something that other cities may not be able to.

School's in! Post-secondary enrolment in Alberta
September 14, 2017

School's in! Post-secondary enrolment in Alberta

With a new academic year underway, it’s a good time to take a look at post-secondary enrolment trends in Alberta.

Alberta household incomes highest of all provinces
September 13, 2017

Alberta household incomes highest of all provinces

Alberta leads the way among all provinces when it comes to household incomes according to new data just released.

Alberta coming out of recession
September 12, 2017

Alberta coming out of recession

Today, The Owl looks at how younger workers fared during the downturn.

Alberta coming out of recession
September 11, 2017

Alberta coming out of recession

There’s no question the recession of 2015-16 was difficult for thousands of workers. At the worst of it, Albertans suffered double-digit unemployment.

Employment rebounds modestly in August
September 08, 2017

Employment rebounds modestly in August

After a nasty drop in July, Alberta’s job market bounced back into positive territory last month by adding a few thousand jobs.

Building permits slide and mark slower construction activity
September 07, 2017

Building permits slide and mark slower construction activity

Future construction activity is likely to slow. That’s because, for the second month in a row, building permits have fallen.

Alberta exports begin to slide
September 06, 2017

Alberta exports begin to slide

Alberta’s exports have begun to slide. Between July and June, total exports slipped 6.5 per cent.

Renters in Calgary catching a break
September 05, 2017

Renters in Calgary catching a break

The latest data from the Consumer Price Index show that renters in Alberta’s two major cities might be getting a break, especially Calgary.

Restaurant receipts reach new record
September 01, 2017

Restaurant receipts reach new record

We love to eat out in Alberta. And that love reached record levels in June.

ATB releases latest Economic Outlook: Alberta’s economy on track for growth, challenges remain
August 31, 2017

ATB releases latest Economic Outlook: Alberta’s economy on track for growth, challenges remain

Alberta has said goodbye to the recession, but it will likely be a few more years before a stronger and more resilient economy fully emerges.

Energy patch hiring—but paying workers less
August 30, 2017

Energy patch hiring—but paying workers less

The average weekly earnings for employees in Alberta’s oil and gas sector fell to $2,171.75 in June of this year.

Alberta donors most generous despite recession
August 29, 2017

Alberta donors most generous despite recession

The generosity of Albertans was not curtailed by the first year of the recession.

Construction worker wages flat in Alberta
August 28, 2017

Construction worker wages flat in Alberta

In recent years, the recession has taken a toll on workers’ paycheques in the province.

Comparing manufacturing in Alberta and Ontario
August 25, 2017

Comparing manufacturing in Alberta and Ontario

Manufacturing is a key component of Alberta’s economy. In 2016, manufacturers generated $16.5 billion of Alberta’s real GDP, or 5.7 per cent of the province’s total economic output. This is down compared to before the recession.

E.I. claims continue to fall
August 24, 2017

E.I. claims continue to fall

In another sign that the economy is gradually shaking off the effects of the recession, new data on the job market suggest fewer Albertans are collecting employment insurance benefits.

Oil prices firm under $US 50
August 23, 2017

Oil prices firm under $US 50

It’s been pretty quiet in oil markets lately. Even so, The Owl likes to check in every once in a while to offer an update.

Retail hits a new record high
August 22, 2017

Retail hits a new record high

Alberta shoppers appear to have finally thrown off the recessionary blues, at least according to the latest data released from Statistics Canada.

Consumer prices softer in July
August 18, 2017

Consumer prices softer in July

The price of goods and services in the province continues to show little inflationary pressure.

Manufacturing pauses slightly in June
August 17, 2017

Manufacturing pauses slightly in June

After topping $6 billion in May, the total value of manufacturing shipments in Alberta slipped back slightly in June to $5.95.

New vehicle sales show improving consumer sentiment
August 16, 2017

New vehicle sales show improving consumer sentiment

An improving economy, better job prospects and cheaper credit has likely enticed more Albertans to replace their vehicles.

Unemployment rates by region: Part two
August 15, 2017

Unemployment rates by region: Part two

Yesterday, The Owl explored joblessness in Calgary and Edmonton. The two cities each have 8.5 per cent unemployment, above the provincial average. Fortunately, the job market in some of Alberta’s smaller cities is showing more encouraging results.

Unemployment rates by region: Part One
August 14, 2017

Unemployment rates by region: Part One

The rivalry between Edmonton and Calgary is a long and storied one, usually played out on the football field or hockey rink. But the two cities also compete economically, with usually one of the two boasting the best labour market.

Perch

Each Perch focuses on a topic that’s important to Alberta​ns. So sit back and enjoy.​​

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Alberta Economic Outlook

ATB Financial’s Alberta Economic Outlook summarizes research on Alberta’s most important sectors. It analyzes the province’s economic happenings and outlines what may occur in the next few months.​​

Todd Hirsch

Learn more about Todd Hirsch, Chief Economist at ATB Financial.​​

Rob Roach

Meet Rob Roach, the director of insight on ATB Financial’s economics and research team.​​

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