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Business Council of Alberta Economic Report

Mixed signals on the growth potential of the Albertan economy

The Business Council of Alberta’s latest quarterly report speaks to current markers in the provincial economy, exploring recent trends in wage growth, consumer inflation, labour force, GDP rates, and business conditions, among other topics.

On a positive note, the report highlights that average wages in Alberta grew faster than both the rate of inflation and the national average, reaching upwards of 5.7%. In particular, earnings of women, historically a laggard, caught up with that of men.

Offsetting this wage growth, however, was the stubborn and lagging effect of inflation, particularly in the categories of food and shelter. Food prices remain persistently high and housing affordability continues to be a challenge, particularly in Calgary. This, in turn, is driving changes in consumer spending behaviour, with people switching to cheaper options and postponing large purchases.

A further shock was the 35,000+ jobs lost across the province in September – by many accounts the largest drop in recent memory. Despite this, the labour market has remained resilient, with unemployment stable and job vacancies falling since their peak in 2022.

Nationally, while GDP growth started brightly in early 2023, it has slowed to a standstill since the second quarter. In fact, since Q4 2022, the Canadian economy has continued to slide, emanating from slowdowns in consumer spending and real estate investment as the effect of rising interest rates ripple through the economy.

It’s not all doom and gloom on the home front, however, as Albertan business conditions improve, especially in Calgary, largely due to a swell tide of interprovincial migrants looking to make Alberta home. This population growth stimulates business activity and industry innovation as the province continues to attract new entrepreneurial energy and talent.

So, how do these trends affect the CLRA? The province’s growth in both population and business opportunities drives demand in the construction industry that we advocate for. The Alberta Construction Association is forecasting 8,300 new construction jobs by 2027 and we are making this worth tradespeople’s while by settling average wage increases significantly higher than the national average.

With the construction industry becoming more attractive for young tradespeople that are moving to Alberta in large numbers, the CLRA continues to advocate for the workers that Alberta depends on. The demand that the province faces for infrastructure construction, upgrades and maintenance continues to grow, and we aim to continue to meet the needs of the tradespeople who make that happen.

Read the full report here.