One week into a new year, here are three decisive questions to ponder about the state of the economy.
In the face of increasing geopolitical tensions affecting the energy sector, what is the outlook for oil markets in 2020?
Given rising unemployment levels, will the job situation improve in Alberta?
And after a slide in home prices, when will the local real-estate market return to equilibrium?
In a series of interviews, some top analysts have weighed in with their expectations for these key areas of the economy.
What is happening on the employment front?
Albertans looking for work faced a tough market in the second half of last year, as more than 18,000 positions disappeared in November and the unemployment rate climbed above seven per cent — a full percentage point higher than a year earlier.
The economy is expected to regain some momentum this year, but will companies invest more money and create more jobs?
Alicia Macdonald of the Conference Board of Canada said Alberta’s economy will likely expand by about 2.5 per cent this year, as some increased investment occurs in the province.
But she doesn’t see that translating into a flood of new jobs.
“Unfortunately in 2020, we don’t see a significant rebound in the cards,” said Macdonald. “We will see job cuts in the public administration sector and will see unemployment increase throughout the year and won’t peak until the end of 2021.”
The Conference Board expects the unemployment rate will average 7.8 per cent this year. Overall employment is projected to increase, but Alberta will also see more people searching for jobs.
However, some economists see better prospects ahead.
“To the extent that we expect to see some improvement in economic growth and investment in the province in 2020, that will feed into higher job numbers and that should drive the unemployment rate down a little bit,” said Mike Holden, chief economist of the Business Council of Alberta.
Image: Edmonton Journal