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Keeping up with Alberta’s growing population

Keeping up with Alberta’s growing population

Posted on: 5/29/2018 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

​​ATB Financial’s Economics Team has been emphasizing that 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.

Two reasons for the gap between the headline GDP numbers–4.9 per cent growth last year and a forecast of 2.7 per cent growth for this year–and the situation “on the ground” are the lag between forecasted growth and actual growth and the increase in our population.

Our economy was 2.9 per cent smaller in 2017 compared to 2014 (when Alberta’s real GDP peaked). If the economy grows by 2.7 per cent in 2018, we will be almost caught up to where we were in 2014 before the downturn. The problem is that we are only five months into 2018. The 2.7 per cent rise in GDP won’t be fully realized until after the Christmas decorations are coming down.

In addition, Alberta’s population grew by 4.3 per cent between 2014 and 2017. That’s an extra 178,000 people–roughly the combined population of Red Deer and Lethbridge–to spread our economic output around. As a result, Alberta’s GDP per capita was 4.1 per cent smaller in 2017 than it was 2014, which is substantially higher than the 2.9 per cent shortfall without population growth taken into account.

This means we have more catching up to do than the headline numbers suggest and helps explain why so many Albertans are wondering where all this growth is that people keep talking about.

ATB recently released its second Alberta Economic Outlook of 2018. The Outlook provides insight into what has happened in our economy this year and what is likely to occur in the months ahead. Read the complete ATB Alberta Economic Outlook (May 2018) and watch ATB's Chief Economist summarize it.

Change in real alberta GDP, graph​​​

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