Reports

January 23, 2024

Population growth and investment put gas in Alberta’s tank, as the country sputters

As we enter 2024, Alberta finds itself in a relatively strong position compared to the rest of Canada and is forecasted, once again, to be a leader in economic growth for the nation. This strength is underpinned by Alberta’s outperformance in several areas including population growth, renewed vitality in the resources sector, a stronger labour market, and strong residential and capital investment.

However, there are signs of a softening economy: jobs growth has plateaued, and vacancies have fallen; business leaders have moderated their expectations around sales and employment and plan to scale back slightly in 2024; and consumers and businesses will feel the full effects of interest rates hikes later this year.  

And despite its relative strength, Alberta will not be immune to the effects of a weakening national and global economy and will feel the impact of a recession—should one occur—albeit not as harshly as the rest of Canadians.

Report Highlights:

Down but not out: The provincial jobs market has been on a rollercoaster with a respectable recovery after a severe dip in October, and jobs growth appears to be weakening slightly as businesses expect to scale back on hiring. However, this softening is not as severe as elsewhere in Canada.


Energized and revitalized: Alberta’s energy industry remains a pillar of prosperity. Employment growth in the industry has been strong (adding more than 17,000 jobs in 2023, offsetting the loss of jobs in professional services) and production reached record highs in 2023. And looking forward to 2024, the outlook for prices is positive.

The pocketbook: The cost of living remains a tough challenge for all Canadians, and many are still struggling to pay bills and manage debt amid high interest rates. The same is true in Alberta, but the financial challenges do not appear to be as severe; Albertans are seeing wage growth and improving living standards.  

Return to investment: Population growth drives investment in residential construction as the province works to close the housing gaps. And forthcoming major projects—Dow’s Path2Zero, Pathways Alliance’s Carbon Capture Storage Hubs, and the soon-to-be operational Trans Mountain Pipeline—are expected to boost growth.  


From sizzle to fizzle: Sales and employment expectations of Alberta businesses have grown more muted, albeit still positive. The challenge among Alberta businesses is shifting from one of constraints to meeting high demand to weaker revenue expectations in the future.

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

Business Council of Alberta. Winter 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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