'Tide is turning' for Calgary and Edmonton economies, thousands of new jobs expected: Conference Board
Calgary economy expected to grow for 1st time in 3 years while Edmonton growth forecast at 2.4%
Gradually rising oil prices will help pull Calgary and Edmonton out of recession this year, with thousands of new jobs forecast for both cities, the Conference Board of Canada says.
While energy investment in Alberta will remain sluggish, oil production is set to rise, and that will give a boost to most major industries in both cities, according to the board's Metropolitan Outlook: Spring 2017.
The conference board predicts Calgary's economy will grow — for the first time in three years — by 2.3 per cent with the addition of about 9,000 jobs this year and 10,000 more in 2018.
Calgary lost 12,500 jobs in 2016.
The board said Edmonton's economy is expected to grow by 2.4 per cent and create about 5,700 new jobs, "up from the paltry 170 new jobs added in 2016."
"Following two years of declines, the tide is turning for Calgary and Edmonton," the report said.
Construction won't recover until 2018
The resumption of job growth in Calgary will push the unemployment rate down from last year's 22-year high of 9.4 per cent to 8.0 per cent in 2018, the board predicts.
But the new round of hiring won't do much in the short term to fill up Calgary's emptied out downtown office buildings space, which reached a 25 per cent vacancy rate at the end of 2016.
"This, along with persistent weak residential investment, suggests that a recovery in Calgary's construction sector will be delayed until 2018," the report said.
By contrast, Edmonton's construction industry is set to bounce back from two consecutive annual double-digit dips, with non-residential and infrastructure projects more than offsetting three years of drops in housing starts, the board predicts.
Edmonton's resources, manufacturing, utilities and services sectors are also primed for recovery, according to the report.
Calgary Economic Development says it's seeing signs of growth and that's making it easier to sell the city to companies looking to establish a headquarters.
"People are looking to be in a place where there are positive things happening," said vice-president Court Ellingson.
"Certainly we have always put our [best] foot forward as saying we are a city for investment and we are a city with an incredible amount of people energy and business energy and that this is, in fact, a city for you to be in."