Bumping along the bottom – Alberta trying to escape the recession

Clouds over Calgary skyline Huffington Post

Economists have described this recession as the worst in decades.  The TD Bank says; “the stretch from 1982-86 is still likely to be regarded as the most challenging period in the post-war period in Alberta,”   Don’t know if that cheers you up a bit……

Statistics Canada and other data paint a numeric picture of Alberta’s economic landscape. Progress at getting out of the quagmire is mixed. Here are a few numbers.


  • The unemployment rate for August was 8.1%
  • Over the past 6 month unemployment beneficiaries have been steadily declining. Unemployment jumped up on July when the economy lost 15,000 jobs (many public sector jobs)
  • That month 71,460 UI cheques issued. (There are two factors at play in the decline of beneficiaries, people getting work or running out of benefits)
  • Employment improved a bit in August as more full time jobs were created. But lots of part-time jobs were lost.


  • Over the last 12 months, Alberta’s economy has added more than 35,000 jobs and wages are also starting to improve. Workers over the age of 25 are seeing more opportunities this year. Job opportunities for those under 24 continued to decline (-1.2 per cent). Going into the recession jobs for younger workers was growing at 8% year over year
  • During the recession(summer 2014 to 2016) male employment dropped by 2.4%. Female employment actually grew by 1.5% (mostly in health care, education and retail sectors)
  • In the past year the trend has reversed with male employment increasing by 3.2%. Female employment grew by a measly 0.5%. The dips and changes can mostly be explained by the job losses in male dominated sectors, oil and gas, transportation and warehousing.

Building Permits

  • Alberta wide, building permits for July were for about $1.0 billion in construction. Down 7% from this June and down 9% compared to July 2016. Edmonton fared better than Calgary. On balance, it won’t be a good year for construction.

Oil production

  • Oil production increased by nearly six million barrels (+7.6 per cent) from April to May. Production has mostly remained steady even through the downturn. It is price that has been the culprit in creating our recession.

Restaurant receipts

  • June restaurant and bar receipts show that Albertans spent $766 million at restaurants and bars that month. A signal that there is a bit more disposable income and optimism.

Household Income

Ah, remember the good old days? According to Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census, Alberta had the highest household median income among the provinces in 2015 ($93,835). Let’s keep a good thought that we don’t lose top spot when the feds do that number again in 2021.