Calgary

Five recent signs Alberta's economy isn't doing so great

Alberta wouldn't be Alberta without the oil and gas industry yanking its finances up and then down, up and then down. The latest bout of financial blues, however, has been a doozy.

From consumer debt to credit downgrades, it's been a bad week for indicators

Finance Minister Joe Ceci has his work cut out for him, with the Alberta economy continuing to struggle. (Amber Bracken/Canadian Press)

Alberta wouldn't be Alberta without the oil and gas industry yanking its finances up and then down, up and then down. 

The latest bout of financial blues, however, has been a doozy. An oil glut and the resulting international politics are wreaking havoc on the price of a barrel, and the signs of trouble in the province are piling up. 

Here are five of the most recent indications that Alberta is still in a bad spot. 

1. Consumer debt and delinquency

Albertans are shouldering more debt and having a harder time paying their bills, according to a report by credit monitoring agency TransUnion.

The average consumer debt in the province, not including mortgages, is $27,803, up just over $200 from the end of 2015, and the number of payments overdue by 90 days or more is up 11.92 per cent. The average delinquency rate across Canada is up 2.98 per cent.

Consumer debt and delinquency are both up in Alberta. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

2. GDP

Good news — Canada's GDP expanded last year. Bad news? Alberta's shrank.

While Canada's economy grew by 0.9 per cent in 2015 — led by B.C. with a three per cent surge — Alberta's economy contracted four per cent. That's ugly compared to the period between 2012 and 2014, when the province averaged growth of 4.4 per cent. 

We'll have to wait for the 2016 numbers, but 2015 is not the worst performance of recent memory. The provincial economy shrank by 5.3 per cent in 2009. 

3. Inflation

A bit of good mixed in with the bad, the inflation rate in Alberta remained stable in April, at 1.3 per cent.

It's the only province in Canada that didn't see an increase in inflation, which is good news for the price of consumer goods, but that's thanks to weak demand.

Albertans aren't facing the same inflation as other parts of Canada thanks to weaker demand. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

4. Housing in Calgary

There's been quite the change in Calgary's housing market, with buyers taking their time to find better deals and sellers dropping their prices in response. 

In April, prices dropped 3.5 per cent in Calgary and held steady in Edmonton. The province as a whole saw a one per cent drop. 

The average sale prices across Canada rose a whopping 13 per cent in April, largely as a result of soaring markets in Toronto and Vancouver. 

A house for sale in Calgary. The local market dropped 3.5 per cent in April. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

5. Downgraded. Again.

Standard and Poor's downgraded Alberta's credit rating for the second time this week, dropping the province to AA from AA+. The latest writedown comes after it removed Alberta's long-lauded AAA rating in December. 

The reason for the latest downgrade? Standard and Poor's said Alberta needs to bring in a sales tax to shore up its finances, unless there's a major rebound in the price of oil. It's also concerned about increased borrowing. 

Standard and Poor's downgraded Alberta for the second time since December, 2015 this week. (Henny Ray Abrams/Associated Press)

Always look on the bright side of life

It's a pretty gloomy list of what's happening in Alberta, but that doesn't mean it's all bad. 

Lower housing prices are opening the market to those who couldn't compete when bidding wars were erupting over houses and condos. Additionally, falling rents mean more affordable housing for those still priced out of the Calgary market. 

And while the oil and gas industry is tanking, logging in the province is picking up thanks to a low dollar, rising prices for wood and lessening pressure on labour costs.

Additionally, there are jobs, jobs and more jobs in the tourism industry, particularly in the mountains. Unfortunately, those housing markets aren't quite as welcoming as Calgary's.                                                                 

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