Edmonton's economy will go from bad to worse, new report says

Low energy prices have created economic uncertainty in Edmonton, and a new report details just how far things have fallen and warns the future will likely get worse before it gets better.

Number of people collecting employment insurance benefits up 55 per cent this year

John Kolkman, research co-ordinator for the council, says there appears to be no short-term relief in sight. (CBC)

Low energy prices have created economic uncertainty in Edmonton, and a new report details just how far things have sunk.

And the future will likely get worse before it gets better, warns the 2015 Tracking the Trends report, released every two years by the Edmonton Social Planning Council.

The 128-page report identified a number of key indicators that reflect an economy in freefall.

Among the findings:

  • The number of Edmontonians receiving employment insurance benefits was up 55 per cent in the first eight months of 2015, compared to the year before;
  • The number of Edmonton households receiving social assistance benefits was up 9.1 per cent  in the first nine months of 2015, compared to the 2014 average;
  • 14,794 people were served by Edmonton's Food Bank in March 2015, an increase of 15.4 per cent compared to a year earlier;
  • 128,810 people in metro Edmonton lived in poverty in 2013, 10.5 per cent of the population.

John Kolkman, research coordinator for the council, delivered the grim news at a new conference Thursday, warning there appears to be no short-term relief in sight.

"I think there's little doubt that things are going to get worse before they start to get better," Kolkman said. "It really is going to be entirely dependent upon how low energy prices fall and how long they stay low."

Many of those losing jobs are professionals, such as geologists or engineers, for example, people who earned high salaries, Kolkman said.

"That's going to take a lot of purchasing power out of the economy."

Kolkman said on the positive side, the rental vacancy rate hit 4.2 per cent in October 2015, up significantly from recent years.

Rents were still up 2.2 per cent from a year earlier, with an average of $1,259 per month for a two-bedroom unit.


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