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Economic Outlook

Statistics surround us daily, clocking and measuring every move we make in business. Are we above or below the median and what will prove profitable. Inundated as we are, there is always a positive way to view the numbers.

Numbers tell a story—but what story?

After listening to the City of Edmonton’s Chief Economist, John Rose speak about the economic landscape of Alberta at the Edmonton Chapter of Advocis breakfast meeting, I chose to look at the numbers as a positive message of resilience and move forward.

We Albertans have just come through two of the toughest years in Alberta history. 2015-2016 saw back to back downturns of 4%. Okay. But now’s it’s 2017 and instead of dwelling in the past, we can trudge ahead to a brighter future. The blast of the last two years wasn’t just the enormous amount of job loss, but also a factor of the huge migration of people moving to Alberta seeking employment that simply wasn’t available.

Already in the early days of 2017 the Natural Gas prices have come back and though we will likely never again see $80+ oil, John Rose predicts prices will climb and level off starting this year and into the future. Instead of the massive swings between peaks and valleys that we have had in the past, perhaps the future will see steady growth, or at a minimum a stabilization.

John Rose says it best in his owns words from an October 2016 question and answer piece from a Metro article written by Alex Boyd:

“Twenty-five percent of Edmonton’s employment is either in healthcare, education or public administration. And the fact that the provincial government, in particular, has not cut back in spite of the deficits that they’re facing — very significant deficits by the way — has been a real support to the Edmonton economy. The other factor in our favor has been the burst of development in the downtown core.”

Though the lack of these cutbacks may see future problems with the rising provincial deficit, for now, growth in Trade and the Logistical side of the workforce continues to grow, held steady by the lack of job loss in Education and Health Care.

“We’ve weathered 2015 and 2016 relatively well. Our unemployment rate is 7.7 percent and that’s high for Edmonton by historical standards but nowhere near what it is in other parts of the province. So we continue to do reasonably well. So what we should see going into 2017 is modest growth and modest improvement in employment but it’s going to be a long, slow grind.”

Like Rose, as resilient Albertans, I believe by 2018, we’ll be back to our old selves. Maybe not booming, but certainly doing reasonably well, we just have to choose to add this positive spin to all of our business practices.


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