ATB’s Alberta Economic Outlook: Growth continues, uncertainty around trade persists


Calgary–Alberta’s economy continues to move forward, with several key economic indicators—employment, retail trade and manufacturing sales—climbing higher.

Today, ATB Financial is releasing its latest Alberta Economic Outlook. The Outlook examines ATB’s most recent research on the economy and provides helpful insight and analysis for Albertans.

The key findings are:

  • Interprovincial migration has returned to positive but remains well below pre-recession levels
  • Oil prices stable, but differential a challenge
  • Pipeline transportation remains a concern
  • Employment is growing, but slowly and full-time jobs have yet to surpass the peak reached in January 2015
  • Deteriorating trade relations with the US pose a risk to Canada and Alberta
  • Retail, wholesale and manufacturing sales are all up over last year, highlighting the momentum that has been building in the provincial economy

As Alberta’s economy gradually improves, several sectors have taken up the baton of growth including agriculture and agrifoods, tourism, transportation and logistics, and the tech sector. Rising demand for oil has kept the benchmark WTI price above $60 a barrel in 2018.

However, some Albertans remain frustrated with the pace of growth.

“There are still many people who are struggling, particularly those who are without work,” said ATB’s Chief Economist Todd Hirsch. “Employment has risen over the last year, but the rate of improvement has been slow and unsteady with the quality of new jobs somewhat in doubt.”

Since the last Alberta Economic Outlook in May, the only change to ATB’s analysis comes with respect to a considerable deterioration in global trade relations.

“Not only is NAFTA in danger, but US trade relations with China, Mexico, the EU and Turkey have worsened significantly. At this time, there is little clarity as to how bad conditions will get. If trade tensions worsen, a global slowdown is almost inevitable,” said Hirsch.

The troubling trade situation has likely caused some Canadian and Alberta companies to take a wait-and-see approach. As a result, ATB has lowered its growth forecast by a tenth of a percentage point and is forecasting real GDP growth of 2.6 per cent this year, and 2.2 per cent in 2019.

Read the complete ATB Alberta Economic Outlook (August 2018)

For further information and interviews with ATB Chief Economist Todd Hirsch, please contact:

Karin Põldaas

Communications Dir., Economics and Research, ATB Financial


About ATB Financial

With assets of $53.3 billion, ATB Financial is Alberta’s largest home-grown financial institution. Established in 1938, ATB is a network of 175 branches, 144 agencies, a Client Care Centre, four Entrepreneur Centres, along with mobile and online banking. ATB’s more than 5,000 team members help more than 750,000 customers in 247 Alberta communities.


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