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Migration out of Alberta slows to a trickle in sign recession is almost over, says ATB

During the first three months of this year, nearly 18,200 people left Alberta for other places in Canada. At the same time, about 15,800 people came to Alberta — for a net loss of about 2,400.

Alberta saw a net loss of about 2,400 people in first 3 months of 2017

During the first three months of this year, nearly 18,200 people left Alberta for other places in Canada. But about 15,800 people came to Alberta, for a net loss of about 2,400 people. (ATB Financial )

The flow of people leaving Alberta is slowing down, a good sign that the recession is almost over, according to ATB Financial's economics team.

During the first three months of this year, nearly 18,200 people left Alberta for other places in Canada.

At the same time, about 15,800 people came to Alberta — for a net loss of about 2,400.

It was Alberta's sixth consecutive fiscal quarter of net out-migration, but that migration has now slowed to a trickle, ATB Financial said in a release.

Chief economist Todd Hirsch says the numbers show job-seekers are realizing there aren't necessarily better opportunities in other provinces.

British Columbia had the brightest job prospects in 2015 and 2016, but the high cost of living and lower wages in that province may have convinced many Albertans not to leave.

"I think they decided, let's just weather the storm here in Alberta," he said.

The latest data on inter-provincial migration suggest that Alberta’s recent economic downturn is winding down, ATB Financial says. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

"As a result, we saw some net outflow. We're still seeing it a bit, but not like we've seen in other recessions, especially not like the 1980s."

Since the recession began, Alberta has lost over 12,000 people to other provinces, Hirsch said.

That's a fraction of the net gain of 133,000 people who moved to Alberta during the boom years of 2010 to 2014

"And despite the severity of the recession, the total net outflow was still only a trickle, not a stampede," ATB Financial said. 

Hirsch says some of the newest arrivals are attracted to lower paying jobs, which might not interest someone who was laid off from an oil and gas job with a bigger salary.

"There are still sectors that continue to do well," he said.

"Now, the wages aren't as high but the tourism sector, the agricultural sector, the agri-food sector — some of those sectors are still seeing, in fact, labour shortages."

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