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Alberta’s economy is diversifying, with strong manufacturing growth

economy

Alberta economy, manufacturing and net migration improving

Alberta economy setting all-time records in retail and hospitality sales

Alberta’s economy turned the corner in 2017, ending the year as the fastest-growing economy in the country with increases in nearly every sector, according to an Alberta government press release.

Tens of thousands of full-time jobs were added to Alberta’s economy and the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in two years. ATB Financial predicts unemployment will average 8.0 per cent this year, a marginal improvement from last year’s average of 8.1 per cent.

In Oct. 2017, Alberta’s manufacturing sales increased 14.2 per cent compared with Oct. 2016, to $6.02 billion. Nationally, manufacturing increased only 4.3 per cent over the same period.

Alberta manufacturers had also contributed the most to the overall decline, as annual sales in the province fell 13.8 per cent to $68.0 billion, in 2015.

Average weekly earnings, exports, manufacturing, drilling and housing starts were all up in 2017 a

Deron Bilous, Alberta economic development minister.

nd Alberta is expected to continue leading the country in economic growth in 2018.

Average weekly earnings increased 2.3 per cent in 2017 to $1,142, the highest in the country by far.

In October, Alberta racked up a gain of 12,000. new jobs—all of them full-time. That follows big losses in July and September and only a small gain in August. October’s employment gains were one of the largest the province has seen in the post-recession period. Overall, job growth seems to be moving in the right direction, albeit unevenly, according to the ATB Nov. economic outlook.

“Alberta began the year gripped by the recession, but we’re ending the year as the fastest-growing economy in the country. We have more work to do, but it is clear: Alberta is moving forward,” said Deron Bilous, minister of economic development and trade.

“All credit goes to the resilient, hard-working and entrepreneurial people of Alberta. By working together we can continue to create new jobs and a more resilient and diversified economy for Alberta families.”

Alberta’s population has seen a net migration as the economy has recovered. Over the past three months it increased by nearly 20,000 people, causing total housing starts over the last year to rise 20 per cent from the previous 12-month period, says the government.

The latest data from Statistics Canada, 17,775 people from other parts of Canada moved to Alberta in the third quarter (July, August and September) of 2018. At the same time, 17,032 Albertans relocated to elsewhere in the country, leaving a narrow net gain of approximately 743 in favour of Alberta.

Alberta was on the losing end of inter-provincial migration for the preceding eight quarters, according to ATB Financial.

“Net out-migration is not surprising during a recession. And indeed, the fact that job seekers move from one part of the country to another during difficult economic times is a sign of a healthy national job market,” said the ATB economic team, which expects in-migration to remain positive or close to balance in next year, in a Dec. 22 post.

“Still, it’s troubling for Albertans to watch friends, family and neighbours pack up and leave.”

The out-migration over the previous two years amounted to a net loss of approximately 30,000. That’s a big number, but it’s a shadow of the more than 130,000 net gain we experienced in the five years leading up to the recession.

Consumer confidence also surged in 2017, reaching its highest level since the end of 2014, according to the government release, with Alberta setting all-time records in retail and hospitality sales.

 

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