Reports

April 25, 2024

Alberta continues to lead the country in growth, but workers and households face tough headwinds

Alberta has seen the strongest employment growth of all large provinces, and population growth is likely responsible for it. Also, the fact that the private sector has played a strong role in job creation, notably more than comparator provinces.

While resilient, Alberta has not escaped weak expectations globally or nationally. The labour market is softening, unemployment has ticked up, and Albertans are still feeling the impact of inflation and interest rates and less than half are feeling good about their finances. However, expectations for rate cuts could provide relief soon.

Despite interest rates, business expectations and intentions are strong. Alberta businesses are among the most optimistic in the country, and they intend to continue to spend on capital this year. Further, Alberta is attracting a larger share of venture capital dollars, despite a national dip in overall investment.

Report Highlights:

Leader of the Pack: Alberta’s impressive population growth has been a major driver of employment growth, which is the strongest in Canada. But what really separates the province from the pack is the role the private sector has played in job creation. Additionally, Alberta business expectations have shown the most improvement over the past quarter and are now among the best in Canada.


Still Down, But Still Not Out: The labour market continues to soften. Unemployment (at 6.3%) is now closer to levels the province was seeing a few years ago. At the same time, job vacancies have continued their sharp decline. Businesses are finding it easier to fill open positions.

Bigger But Not Necessarily Better Off: While Alberta’s population has grown—and the economy grows with it—individual Albertans aren’t necessarily feeling the gains. Persistent inflation and high interest rates continue to put pressure on wages, people are spending less, and Albertans are feeling less confident about their financial situation.

Investing in the Future: Though venture capital has dipped nationally, Alberta continues to attract a growing share of dollars, up to 11%, from 7% in 2022 and just 4% in 2021. Alberta businesses also plan to continue to spend on capital this year, pouring an estimated $69 billion into future productive capacity, with about $30 billion in the oil and gas sector specifically and about $39 billion across other industries.

If you would like to use this report in a publication, please use the following citation.

Business Council of Alberta. Spring 2024.
Alberta Snapshot: A Quarterly Economic Update for Alberta.

Background:

We know there is so much economic data and information out there, and that you want a way to see it all in a snapshot with a view looking forward and not just back. That’s why we created the Alberta Snapshot, a quarterly executive summary that helps you keep the pulse on what is happening in Alberta’s economy—the good, bad, and urgent.

We use a wide and diverse range of indicators including data on jobs, consumer spending and debt, business openings and closings, population growth, economic forecasts, and more to assess and synthesize economic activity, business conditions, and social well-being in a way that is meaningful to Albertans and Alberta businesses.

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