The first signs of an economic slowdown in
Alberta are beginning to appear.
A weakening real estate market in Calgary and waning
consumer confidence are early manifestations of collapsing oil
prices in Canada’s oil hub. The crude-producing province’s
status as a jobs juggernaut may also be dissipating.
The latest data, along with capital spending cuts by oil
companies and warnings by policymakers of budgetary
implications, probably herald a year where Alberta’s dominance
of Canada’s economy will take a breather, with the nation
relying more on provinces such as Ontario to drive growth.
Alberta’s economy is projected to underperform the national
average this year for the first time since 2009.
“This is where you start to see some of the data come in
over the next couple of months and I wouldn’t be surprised to
see more weakness start to accumulate as we get into 2015,”
David Tulk, chief macro strategist at TD Economics in Toronto,
said in a telephone interview.
Home sales in Calgary, Canada’s oil capital, are falling
even as listings rise, according to January data provided by the
Calgary Real Estate Board. Month-to-date data show sales for
January are down 34 percent from a year ago, while listings are
up 22 percent.
That follows December readings that show Calgary’s real
estate market closed the year with a 42 percent rise in
listings, and a 7.5 percent decline in sales, according to the
Calgary real estate board.
In a separate report last week, Canada Mortgage Housing
Corp. reported new housing construction starts in January fell
10 percent in the prairie provinces, which include Alberta.
“Auto sales and home sales and housing starts would be
some of the first signs of trouble,” said Doug Porter said.
Consumers in Ontario and British Columbia have also
surpassed Albertans as the nation’s most confident, survey data
show. The Bloomberg Nanos gauge of consumer confidence for the
prairie provinces including Alberta measured 56.7 last week, the
lowest since May 2013 and down from as high as 67.9 in July.
The decline in Alberta helped drive down national
confidence levels at the end of last year.
On the jobs front, although December data showed strength
in Alberta, with the 5,700 jobs created the most among the 10
provinces, that may be a temporary blip in a trend that has
shown weakening contributions in the second half of 2015.
Alberta’s economy created 18,500 jobs in the last six months of
last year, down from 47,400 in the first half of the year.
To contact the reporters on this story:
Theophilos Argitis in Ottawa at
Greg Quinn in Ottawa at
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
David Scanlan at
Chris Fournier, Jacqueline Thorpe