Alberta Continues Boom, Say Analysts
Those who thought that Albertaâ€™s economic boom days were over are quickly becoming discredited.Â In what may mark a return to the rapid growth and labour shortages that were a fixture of our economy before the global â€śGreat Recession,â€ť a second boom appears on its way.
Numbers released last week by BMO Capital Markets show that Alberta is projected to lead national economic growth again this year, outranking all other provinces as it did in 2011.Â The boom is expected to continue into 2013, outpaced in percentage terms only by Newfoundland.
â€śAlbertaâ€™s economy significantly outperformed the national average in 2011, as rising oil production fuelled 5.2 per cent real GDP growth,â€ť said Robert Kavcic, Economist, BMO Capital Markets. â€śAlberta should remain atop the leaderboard this year, with growth running more than a full percentage point above the national average at 3.4 per cent.â€ť
Along withÂ impressive economic growth, Albertaâ€™s job market appears poised to boom again.Â This yearâ€™s job growth is pegged at 2.5% by BMO.
Looking to the longer term, provincial projections indicate at least 600,000 new positions will come open between now and 2021 — with the province predicted to have a shortage of well over 100,000 workers to fill those jobs.
Continued growth is being strongly supported by the federal government.Â On Monday, Tim Uppal, Minister of State (Democratic Reform) visited Edmonton-based C-FER technologies, and remarked on his governmentâ€™s economic strategy. Minister Uppal highlighted the economic contributions of the oil sands to the national economy, indicating that oil and gas extraction contributes more than $22 billion on average each year in taxes and royalties.
â€śThatâ€™s why itâ€™s so important to ensure that Canada has the right conditions in place to attract global investment in our provinces and territories,â€ť Uppal said.Â â€śThe time is now for Canadaâ€™s immense resources,â€ť he continued.Â According to Uppal, the federal government plans to streamline environmental assessments, and in turn reduce â€śinefficienciesâ€ť as part of their Responsible Resource Development plan.
But whether Alberta is able to sustain the boom may depend more on provincial government policies than federal — helping fill the labour gap and dealing with continued growth.Â One positive move in this direction was already evident late last week, when the Alberta government announced an increase in the provinceâ€™s minimum wage.
Speaking to the increase, Alberta Human Services Minister Dave Hancock said â€śAlbertaâ€™s economy is growing again now after several years of downturn.â€ť
â€śWe have a shortage of skilled labour in many fields, and minimum wage jobs are typically the entry-level positions that give younger workers the experience they need to move up into more skilled jobs,â€ť Hancock concluded