Alberta economy growing but still behind 2014 pace

ATB analysis shows province hasn't caught up to pre-recession activity

Alberta’s economy may have rebounded in the last two years from the depths of the recession but it’s still behind the pace of economic activity in 2014.

The numbers were released on Friday by ATB Financial’s Economics and Research team in The Owl, a daily economic update by the financial institution.

Statistics Canada recently reported that Alberta’s real gross domestic product grew by 2.3 per cent in 2018.

“Despite the growth, we haven’t caught up to where we were before the recession of 2015-16,” said ATB. “Alberta’s real GDP in 2018 was still 0.9 per cent ($3.2 billion) below where it was in 2014. That might not sound too bad, but when we take into account the population growth since 2014, our economic output in 2018 was 6.1 per cent behind where it was before the recession took hold. Real GDP per Albertan in 2014 was $82,833 compared to $77,801 in 2018.

“The oil and gas extraction sector’s real GDP increased by 26.2 per cent between 2014 and 2018, largely due to higher production levels in the oil sands.”

ATB also said that sectors dependent on oil and gas extraction have not fared as well. The GDP of support activities for oil and gas extraction was down 27.4 per cent in 2018 compared to 2014. The GDP of professional, scientific and technical services was down 20.2 per cent and construction’s was down 31.7 per cent, it explained.

It also said sectors that posted gains include agriculture, with its GDP up by 6.7 per cent in 2018 compared to 2014, transportation and warehousing (+11.3 per cent), finance and insurance (+13.4 per cent) and arts, entertainment and recreation (+20.2 per cent).

“With Alberta’s GDP growth in 2019 shaping up to be lower than it was last year, catching up to pre-recession levels in all areas of the economy is going to be an uphill climb,” added ATB.

– Mario Toneguzzi for Calgary’s Business

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