January 19, 2023

A white hot labour market, but Albertans increasingly thinking with their pocketbook

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.

Alberta Snapshot Winter 2023—Key Insights

In our previous update, we reported that global economic forecasts had been downgraded but Alberta was positioned to weather the storm. This continues to hold true, but Canadians are concerned about the economy, which are driven primarily by the rising cost of living.

Hot Jobs; Cool Wages: Job vacancies are high, and unemployment is low, which is leading to one of the hottest job markets Alberta has seen in years. However. wage growth remains stubbornly slow in Alberta, especially compared to the rest of Canada. In fact, real wages in Alberta have decreased by 5%. However, with a tight labour market and hiring intentions strong, we predict wage pressure to intensify and wage growth to accelerate.

Strong, But Not Unscathed: High commodity prices drove economic growth in 2022, and while prices are expected to moderate in 2023, Alberta’s resource sectors will continue to be an economic strength amidst a potential global slowdown. Additionally, globally-driven inflation is also expected to moderate in 2023, providing some anticipated relief to Albertan pocketbooks.

Report Highlights:

Alberta’s labour market is the tightest it has been in years. Businesses are looking to hire, but there are fewer Albertans looking for work as job vacancies rise and unemployment remains relatively low. There are still about 100,000 jobs open in Alberta and about 145,000 people looking for jobs.

A hot labour market might heat up what is otherwise cool wage growth. Inflation is taking a mean bite out of wages, which for Albertans, have been growing much slower than the rest of Canada. With prices up 6.5% and wages up only 1.5%, Albertans’ wage are in a steep decline. However, with a tight labour market, wage pressure is likely to increase—and wage growth likely to accelerate.

Alberta’s economic strength is driving Canada’s growth. With near-record prices in energy and record crops, exports were a major source of growth for Canada’s economy in Q3 2022. While commodity prices are expected to moderate in 2023, they will remain elevated and will help buoy Alberta through a potential global economic slowdown. 

Despite growth forecasts, many Canadians believe we are already in a recession. Two-thirds of Canadians describe the state of Canada’s economy as “bad.” The culprit? Inflation. Canadians are spending more to afford basic needs and maintain their quality of life but are not getting more for their money. Rising cost of living remains a top concern for Albertans and Canadians.

The threat of a global recession could weigh on Alberta prosperity. Global economic forecasts have been downgraded yet again, with growth expected to be at 1.7% in 2023, and Inflation-fighting measures like interest rates are weighing down business investment expectations in the province.

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

Business Council of Alberta. Winter 2023.
Alberta Snapshot: A Quarterly Economic Update for Alberta.

Explore Insights:

Share This