Alberta net migration to pick up: report

Alberta will likely see a pickup in the influx of migrants from other provinces a report from Edmonton-based ATB Financial predicted Wednesday.
Housing prices that are still relatively affordable are one reason why a new report predicts net in-migration to Alberta from other provinces will pick up in the next few years. (CBC)

Alberta will likely see a bounce upwards in the number of migrants moving in from other provinces, a report from Edmonton-based ATB Financial predicted Wednesday.

Economist Dan Sumner projected that in-migration to Alberta will probably return to around 20,000 people per year by 2013.

Sumner predicted that if there is another prolonged boom in the energy sector, net migration could spike to as high as 35,000 per year.

During the height of the economic boom in 2006, net migration reached 45,000, but that slowed when the recession struck in 2008.

Sumner predicted that will begin to change soon because of differences in unemployment rate, wages and housing prices.

If history is any guide, said Sumner, net interprovincial migration to Alberta could as much as triple from 2010 levels over the next few years.

"The most important factor that drives migrants to a certain regions is job prospects," he said.

"Currently the unemployment rate in Alberta is 1.7 percentage points lower than in Canada and two full percentage points lower than in Ontario. This provides an incentive for Canadians to relocate to Alberta."

Wages in Alberta are the highest in the country at over 15 per cent — or about $140 per week higher than nationally — higher than the Canadian average and close to 20-year highs. In addition, wages have continued to grow at a rate faster than the national average.

Housing prices are also relatively affordable, he said.